An Immense World
Presented in partnership with the Aldo Leopold Foundation.
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The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electric and magnetic fields. But every kind of animal, including humans, is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving but a tiny sliver of our immense world.
In An Immense World, Ed Yong coaxes us beyond the confines of our own senses, allowing us to perceive the skeins of scent, waves of electromagnetism, and pulses of pressure that surround us. We encounter beetles that are drawn to fires, turtles that can track the Earth’s magnetic fields, fish that fill rivers with electrical messages, and even humans who wield sonar like bats. We discover that a crocodile’s scaly face is as sensitive as a lover’s fingertips, that the eyes of a giant squid evolved to see sparkling whales, that plants thrum with the inaudible songs of courting bugs, and that even simple scallops have complex vision. We learn what bees see in flowers, what songbirds hear in their tunes, and what dogs smell on the street. We listen to stories of pivotal discoveries in the field, while looking ahead at the many mysteries that remain unsolved.
Funny, rigorous, and suffused with the joy of discovery, An Immense World takes us on what Marcel Proust called “the only true voyage...not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes.”
Back in 2018, award-winning science writer Ed Yong warned readers about the dangers an infectious disease outbreak would pose to public health in the United States. He had foreseen the country’s fragility in preparing and responding for an epidemic, from the chronic underfunding of healthcare and shortage of medical supplies to President Donald Trump’s inadequacies as a leader. When COVID-19 broke out in the United States in March 2020, Yong projected the repercussions if and when the virus become a national issue. Throughout 2020, he continued his exemplary reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, giving a full account of what went wrong, concluding that “almost everything that went wrong with America’s response to the pandemic was predictable and preventable.” Now, Yong discusses the pandemic’s impacts, resets expectations for the end of COVID-19, and maps out a path forward for the country.
For his exemplary coverage of the pandemic, Ed Yong has also won the George Polk Award for science reporting; the Victor Cohn Prize for medical-science reporting; the Neil and Susan Sheehan Award for investigative journalism; the John P. McGovern Award from the American Medical Writers Association; and the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award for in-depth reporting.
Ed Yong is also passionate about other areas in science. He is the best-selling author of I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us, a groundbreaking, informative, and entertaining examination of the relationship between animals and microbes. His second book, An Immense World, takes a comprehensive look at the fascinating sensory worlds of animals. A New York Times bestseller, An Immense World is longlisted for the PEN America 2023 Literary Award and has made many Best Books of the Year lists. A longtime science reporter for The Atlantic, his work has also appeared in National Geographic, the New Yorker, Wired, Nature, New Scientist, and Scientific American, among others.