Big Books & Bold Ideas with Kerri Miller

Encore presentation: Science journalist Ed Yong on how animals sense the world

A book cover and a picture of the author.
Ed Yong is an award-winning science journalist who has expertly covered the COVID-19 pandemic for The Atlantic. His new book, "An Immense World," unveils how animals use their senses to explore the world around them.
Author image by Urszula Soltyz | Book cover courtesy of Random House

All animals use their senses to perceive the world, humans included. But not every animal senses the same thing.

In Pulitzer prize-winning science journalist Ed Yong’s 2022 book, “An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us,” he explores the way each species sees the world through its own sensory lens and explains why those differences should both delight and humble us.

“Senses always come at a cost,” Yong writes. “No animal can sense everything well.”

MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with Yong last year about his research. It’s a fascinating conversation that we thought deserved an encore, since this April, we are celebrating animals at Big Books and Bold Ideas.

Don’t missing Yong sharing stories about why jumping spiders have eight eyes, how octopus arms operate without the brain, why Morpho butterflies have ears on their wings — and why we should gently resist the tendency to view other animals’ senses through the limited view of our own.


  • Ed Yong is an award-winning science journalist for The Atlantic where he did exceptional reporting on the pandemic. His new book is “An Immense World.”

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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