November 16, 2022
  • November 16, 2022
  • Home
  • Book reviews
  • Review: Book About Animal Senses Sheds Even Non-Human Senses | book reviews

Review: Book About Animal Senses Sheds Even Non-Human Senses | book reviews

By on July 3, 2022 0

Six years ago, Ed Yong stunned and delighted readers and critics alike with his dazzling debut, “I Contain Multitudes,” revealing, in vivid detail, the unseen and indispensable world of the microbiome.

My review for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis proclaimed that he “belongs to the highest tier of science journalists at work today.” Those words proved prophetic (if I may congratulate myself): “I Contain Multitudes” made the New York Times bestseller list, and in the years that followed, Yong’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 for the Atlantic won a Pulitzer Prize and was named a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

Now he’s done it again, and more. His lavish new work, “An Immense World”, is an in-depth investigation into the senses of animals, how and why they shape us even as they remain elusive. We do not take this book as long as we fall into it.

People also read…

  • Cardinals Notebook: Paul DeJong push sneaks into deadline decisions
  • BenFred: Tired Cardinals Talking Points Won’t Sell With Another Ho-Hum Trade Deadline
  • Cardinals can hit deadline to upgrade starting rotation, not fix it
  • Cardinals Notebook: As Trade Lawsuits Continue, Were Nats Discussions Filmed?
  • Cardinals Notebook: John Mozeliak talks about business options to help now and beyond
  • CBC high school student punched and killed on street near Ted Drewes in St. Louis
  • Cardinals notebook: Pushed to join the team in Toronto, Johan Oviedo detours to Miami for a passport
  • BenFred: Juan Soto Madness side effect seems to undervalue Dylan Carlson
  • Adam Wainwright saw the chance for the “great pitcher” to stabilize the Cardinals. He just knew the guy.
  • 10 rescue puppies in St. Peters die in floods; The roof of the building of the Saint-Louis zoo collapses
  • Cardinals trade Edmundo Sosa to Phillies, recall Paul DeJong from miners
  • Cardinals Diary: DeJong joins team in DC, as front office seeks business impact
  • St. Louis school of nursing, open for 124 years, closes due to finances, enrollment
  • A frantic race and an ax to save 42 dogs from flooding at the Brentwood facility
  • Cardinals receiver Yadier Molina is hit by a pitch during a rehab mission

Yong structures “A huge world” around the German name Umwelt, “the part of this environment that an animal can sense and experience – its perceptual world”. Umwelt runs, like a meme, throughout the narrative, as Yong touches on the familiar – sight, sound, pain, etc. – and extends into non-human domains, such as echolocation and magnetoreception, “the only known sensorless sense” and a holy grail for sensory biologists.

It delves into the mysteries but follows a clear guideline, amplifying the science. “A bat must constantly adjust its sonar” when stalking prey.

“To even find a moth in the first place, it must roam wide open spaces,” he writes. “During this search phase, it makes calls that carry as far as possible – strong, long, infrequent pulses whose energy is concentrated in a narrow frequency band. … The whole hunting sequence, from the initial search to terminal buzz, can take place in seconds.

From bat sonar to dog noses to swimming pool electric fields, Yong’s reporting is layered, seasoned with vivid lab and field scenes, interviews with researchers in a range of disciplines. Animal geeks will dine on the rich anecdotes, historical detours, and concise footnotes, all propelling its momentum. His prose is witty, broad, and scholarly; he ironically notes that male mice “produce a pheromone in their urine which makes females particularly attracted…this substance is called darcin”, according to the male hero of “Pride and Prejudice”.

Nature is therefore a costume drama, a multiverse, a profusion of wormholes: what goes into one ear can come out transformed. Yong goes beyond the known unknowns – how does a mantis shrimp, with its complex eyes, see? Can mosquitoes sense body heat? — and to unknown unknowns. Have we touched on all the sensory landscapes, or are there others?

In its final act, “An Immense World” swells with philosophy and politics, highlighting the urgency of climate change. Yong’s book blends epic journeys with intimate accounts, one of the year’s finest journalistic achievements.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Tuesday, August 2, 2022