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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (182 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Neil Shubin Narrator: Marc Cashman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2013 ISBN: 9780449012932
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From one of our finest and most popular science writers, the best-selling author of Your Inner Fish, comes the answer to a scientific mystery story as big as the world itself: How have astronomical events that took place millions of years ago created the unique qualities of the human species?

In his last book, Neil Shubin delved into the amazing connections between human anatomy—our hands, our jaws—and the structures in the fish that first took over land 375 million years ago. Now, with his trademark clarity and exuberance, he takes an even more expansive approach to the question of why we are the way we are. Starting once again with fossils, Shubin turns his gaze skyward.  He shows how the entirety of the universe's 14-billion-year history can be seen in our bodies. From our very molecular composition (a result of stellar events at the origin of our solar system), he makes clear, through the working of our eyes, how the evolution of the cosmos has had profound effects on the development of human life on earth.


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Quotes & Awards

  • This is beautiful story, beautifully told. Our very bodies store within them the entire arc of cosmic history, and Neil Shubin's tale weaves, with great authority, accuracy and a wonderfully light touch, a grand synthesis that manages to incorporate forefront research in astronomy, geology, paleontology, and genetics. He captures not only the excitement of the scientific enterprise, but also the many personalities from many different fields, countries, and eras, each of whose lifelong contributions have helped continue to further reveal the ever more subtle and remarkable cosmic connections that each of us has with the cosmos. Lawrence M. Krauss, Director of the Origins Project and Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, and the author of numerous books including The Physics of Star Trek, Quantum Man, and most recently A Universe from Nothing           
  • We are stardust,’ goes the old song, but most of us don't give the fact much thought. The Universe Within will change that. Neil Shubin roots around our physiology and finds the history of the cosmos lodged in our cells. And in the process, he makes the familiar wondrous. Carl Zimmer, author of Evolution: Making Sense of Life and A Planet of Viruses
  • Engrossing…An intelligent, eloquent account of our relations with the inanimate universe. Kirkus, starred review 
  • We sometimes forget just how closely we humans are bound to the rest of the cosmos in both our bodily composition and our history.  Nobody is better placed to remind us than Neil Shubin, and he does so with brio in his fascinating page-turner The Universe Within. Ian Tattersall, author of Masters of the Planet  
  • From the finest scientific detail to the biggest picture, Shubin understands who we are and why we are here, and even what we need to do to keep going. The magic of  his writing is that you can open to any page and in a paragraph or two witness an entire revelation. If you really want your mind blown, read the whole thing. Shubin weaves very human stories into an earthly and universal narrative that without this book might seem too vast or two miniscule to matter. Craig Childs, author of Apocalyptic Planet  
  • A volume of truly inspired science writing…Shubin deftly balances breadth and depth in his search for a ‘sublimely beautiful truth.’ Publishers Weekly
  • Walt Whitman yawped, ‘I contain multitudes,’ and in Your Inner Fish (2008), Shubin confirmed him by demonstrating how the evolution of life on earth is inscribed in the human body. Now Shubin shows that all creation, from the big bang on, is packed in there, too…In short, universal history made us what we are. Wow. Booklist starred review
  • Biologist Shubin’s grand tour of human origins goes beyond the well-worn Carl Sagan line, ‘We’re made of star stuff’…Even those familiar with the basic underpinnings of how we evolved will find The Universe Within engaging. It is laced with Shubin’s own fossil-hunting adventures and filled with colorful tales of historical figures. Scientific American
  • The biblical passage, ‘You are dust, and to dust you shall return,’ is a poignant reminder of our fragile place in the world. It also reminds us how deeply we are connected to the earth, the water, the air and to the other creatures who roam the land. Shubin’s The Universe Within is a further reminder of this critical relationship…The Universe Within gives us an appreciation of how we are just small specks and small moments in time. Bookpage
  • A truly delightful story of how human beings and life on Earth are connected to the wider universe. We don't observe reality from outside; we're embedded deeply within in it, and it shows. Neil Shubin is a sure-handed and entertaining guide to the big picture of how we came to be. Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist and author of The Particle at the End of the Universe   
  • “What better young paleontologist to tie together the physical and biological aspects of our universe to comprehend the emergence of modern humans.  Engagingly written, The Universe Within, is sure to enlighten all who peruse this stimulating book. Donald Johanson, author of Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind 
  • "A fascinating, accessible tour of how life on Earth, include our own, has been shaped by many upheavals in our planet's long history. Full of surprising, yet profound insights, Neil Shubin's The Universe Within is also a celebration of the humans whose curiosity and genius have, in a very short time, transformed our understanding of our ever-changing world. Sean B. Carroll, author of Remarkable Creatures          
  • Shubin, takes us on an exhilarating ride through the workings of science and gives a fascinating glimpse into the vast universe's many constituents…To read The Universe Within is to arrive at all sorts of wonders…Shubin illuminates our inner and outer selves and our world, and demonstrates how beautifully connected, transitory, rare, and changeable we are. Book Browse  
  • An illuminating account of how life on earth is shaped by the rhythms of the cosmos…Shubin’s gift for storytelling is rooted in such shifts of scale, from the cosmic to the quotidian…‘Every astronomer is a paleontologist’, notes Neil Shubin, but on the evidence of this dazzling excursion into life, the universe and everything, every palaeontologist is also a biologist, a physicist and a cosmologist rolled into one, a magical storyteller whose work succeeds in reminding us how at home we are in our universe. The Times Literary Supplement
  • Entertaining. METRO newspaper
  • “What is special about the book is its sweep, its scope, its panorama—how physics, biology, geology, chemistry and seemingly every other science are brought to bear on the most intricate details of human life.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • **Kirkus Best Books of the Year (2013)**
  • What is special about the book is its sweep, its scope, its panorama—how physics, biology, geology, chemistry and seemingly every other science are brought to bear on the most intricate details of human life…In ‘Auguries of Innocence’ Blake wrote with rapture about the ability ‘To see a world in a grain of sand, / And a heaven in a wild flower, / Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, / And eternity in an hour.’ Shubin's ability to do all this comes from long experience, not blissful Blakean innocence. But the two ends somehow wrap around and meet: They tap into the same awe, and this makes science seem a very uplifting enterprise indeed. Wall Street Journal  
  • Hooray! A new book by Neil Shubin (Your Inner Fish) has just been published: The Universe Within. This book is, quite literally, cosmic: a profound story told with Shubin’s usual clarity and passion. Oliver Sacks, author of Hallucinations
  • “An illuminating account of how life on earth is shaped by the rhythms of the cosmos…[A] dazzling excursion into life, the universe, and everything.”

    Times Literary Supplement

  • “A new, fresh way of telling the story of life, the universe, and everything…Shubin illuminate[s] the story of discovery in unexpected and hugely enjoyable ways.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Walt Whitman yawped, ‘I contain multitudes,’ and in Your Inner Fish, Shubin confirmed him by demonstrating how the evolution of life on earth is inscribed in the human body. Now Shubin shows that all creation, from the big bang on, is packed in there, too…In short, universal history made us what we are. Wow.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Shubin illuminates, with Carl Sagan-like clarity and elegance, the specifics behind the Joni Mitchell lyric ‘We are stardust.’”

    Time Out Chicago

  • “Even those familiar with the basic underpinnings of how we evolved will find The Universe Within engaging.”

    Scientific American

  • The Universe Within gives us an appreciation of how we are just small specks and small moments in time. But it also challenges us to take steps to protect our environment so our world can last a little longer.”

    BookPage

  • “Shubin shares the findings of some of the great scientific specialists—as well as those of a few unsung heroes. But he also explains how a generalist’s appreciation of their work is still possible, simply by looking inside the human body.”

    New Scientist

  • “Wonderful…We need writers [like Shubin] who can make deeper connections between people and the natural world around them, as well as showing how that interrelatedness has played out over the deep time of geology.”

    Seattle Times

  • “An intelligent, eloquent account of our relations with the inanimate universe.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A volume of truly inspired science writing…Shubin deftly balances breadth and depth in his search for a ‘sublimely beautiful truth.’”

    Publishers Weekly

  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title” for Nonfiction, January 2013

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 B. Rule | 2/10/2014

    " This is another good one from Neil Shubin. It manages to encompass all manners of cosmology, geology, climate science, and evolutionary biology to describe how humans came to be. It's a pretty fast moving ride and there are places where I longed for more detail, but it's worth a read. That said, some of his transitions are jerky and he flits between facts and anecdotes in a way that can sometimes feel scattershot. He does his best to give credit to a wide range of scientists who are not often known outside their field, but these efforts occasionally detract from the narrative. A minor quibble for a good pop science book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Sullivan | 2/9/2014

    " Good overview of the relationships between development of the earth, and eventually, man. Very easy read; good fact sources; brought the reader into the story, well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Monty | 2/2/2014

    " I feel mixed about this book. In spite of the way the author weaves personal stories about scientists and their discoveries over the last 100-200 years, which in turn adds more knowledge about the world we live in and how it got that way, there seems to be something missing for me. But I don't know what it is. If you like science and the stories behind science, then this book is for you. Each chapter contains the potential for volumes, and fascinating tidbits that whet the appetite are served all along the way. There is a rather large bibliography for those who want to pursue a topic further. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauren | 1/21/2014

    " Not perfect, but pretty darn good. Rounded up to a full 5 stars because it was so full of memorable tidbits. Shubin may be a paleontologist, but you'll learn about astronomy, physics, microbiology, social sciences... And so many things in between. Accessible science writing that offers a solid starting point to many additional disciplines. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Victoria | 12/25/2013

    " Read my review: here. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 B. | 12/16/2013

    " A very concise "history of the universe", if not too concise. Much shorter than I would've expected. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/16/2013

    " I really wanted to love this, and at first I did. Lots of great information and facts on how we're all connected to the earth, sea, space, and time. But somewhere near the middle, the book seemed to disconnect. But maybe it's just me and my need to be constantly entertained. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nick | 12/9/2013

    " I liked his first book a lot because it was packed with facts and interesting things about our biology. This book takes a slightly more "Gee whiz, isn't the universe amazing" approach which left me feeling a little pandered to. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nigel | 11/7/2013

    " - the universe for dummies. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Timothy Delaney | 10/31/2013

    " Things you already know put together in a new way. Good stuff. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ken Hamm | 9/2/2013

    " really great survey of some of the greatest hits of science with lots of fun anecdotes about scientific discovery along the way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brittany Robinson | 7/5/2013

    " Good overview of planet history for those who haven't been exposed to much of it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kamcakes | 5/28/2013

    " Before reading this book, I never knew just how much everything in our world, from star dust, to rocks, to human beings, is connected. This book has given me a new outlook on life, and just how meaningful it is to be a part of this wonderful history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daphne Miller | 4/23/2013

    " Although not as fantastic as Your Inner Fish (Shubin's previous book) this book is a great reminder of just how intimately our biology (and our health) is connected to our environment and our planet. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David Mandell | 1/12/2013

    " Loved "Your Inner Fish." I was hoping for similar insight and careful description in this new book. The text feels rushed, with careless and unfinished analogies. It still contains wonderful details and facts though, written in a similarly humorous way to Fish. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe Macko | 1/4/2013

    " Enjoyed The Universe Within but was looking for more emphasis on the biological and human side of this story. There was a major emphasis on the geological history. Although interesting and informative was not as interested in this area of the history of the planet. "

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About the Author
Author Neil Shubin

Neil Shubin is the author of the bestselling Your Inner Fish, which was chosen by the National Academy of Sciences as the best book of the year in 2009. Trained at Columbia, Harvard, and the University of California at Berkeley, Shubin is associate dean of biological sciences at the University of Chicago. In 2011 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

About the Narrator

Marc Cashman, Earphones Award–winning narrator, was named one of the “Best Voices of the Year” by AudioFile magazine. His voice can be heard on radio, television, film, and video games. He also instructs voice actors through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques, in Los Angeles.