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Extended Audio Sample The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People, by Neil Shubin Click for printable size audiobook cover
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:
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From one of our finest and most popular science writers, and the best-selling author of Your Inner Fish, comes the answer to a scientific mystery as big as the world itself: How are the events that formed our solar system billions of years ago embedded inside each of us?

In The Universe Within, with his trademark clarity and exuberance, Shubin takes an expansive approach to the question of why we look the way we do. Starting with fossils, he turns his gaze skyward, showing us how the entirety of the universe’s fourteen-billion-year history can be seen in our bodies. As he moves from our very molecular composition (a result of stellar events at the origin of our solar system) through the workings of our eyes, Shubin makes clear how the evolution of the cosmos has profoundly marked our own bodies.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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

  • “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.”


  • “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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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