To help explain the universe, author looks to the human body

'The Universe Within' by Neil Shubin
Book cover courtesy of publisher

In his latest book, "The Universe Within," paleontologist Neil Shubin explains how the rocks on Mars and elements from the Big Bang are strongly linked to the bodies we inhabit.

"By smashing the smallest atoms and surveying the largest galaxies...exploring the rocks on the highest mountains and in the deepest seas — we uncover a sublimely beautiful truth," he writes in the book's introduction.

Shubin, professor and associate dean of biological sciences at the University of Chicago, uses his latest work to explain why we look the way we do and how our molecular composition shows marks of the universe's evolution.

Shubin, interviewed in the Chicago Tribune, says:

We live in a very technological, scientific age, yet there's this huge disconnect between what scientists take for granted and what the general public knows. If you look at controversies of curricula, whether it's evolution or the history of Earth; if you look at discussions of climate change, what you find is a lot of people don't know the basic stories.

Plate tectonics is related to atmosphere, and plate tectonics is related to life. These are interdependent things: rock, air, Earth, life. They're all interdependent, yet we teach them often as separate things. But the reality is, if we want to understand the effects of climate change, or understand how the planet interacts with living things, and how living things have affected the planet, you have to understand the interdependency.

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