Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Review: The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People- Neil Shubin

This book was a very easy and entertaining read (of course, I listened to it).  Before yesterday I had listened to about 1/8th of the book, then I finished it while doing housework yesterday.  It was hard to put down.  Also, because I was a short book, I see it ending up on my classroom bookshelf soon.

The first half of the book was mostly old hat for me because I read so many science and especially astronomy books.  However, I did learn quite a bit a the book progressed.  There were also a lot of biology connections and back-stories and details that I was unaware of.  I found myself continually thinking that it was refreshing to hear some of this information from the perspective of a biologist/paleontologist.  Some of the connections or analogies were a little bit of a stretch, but overall although the book jumped around a lot the flow was very smooth.

This book kind of helped confirm an idea that I've had for a while, that I like to hear the stories of scientists and listen to their books, but the narrative flows better with journalists and authors who write about science [Mary Roach, Bill Bryson, etc].

The only other complaint I can mention is that the author failed to talked about limitations of our knowledge or about the uncertainty [or error bars] of our knowledge in some of the areas that he presented as strong facts that I think the public/armchair scientist can handle.

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