What's Gotten Into You: The Story of Your Body's Atoms, from the Big Bang Through Last Night's Dinner (Hardcover)
For readers of Bill Bryson, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Siddhartha Mukherjee, a wondrous, wildly ambitious, and vastly entertaining work of popular science that tells the awe-inspiring story of the elements that make up the human body, and how these building blocks of life travelled billions of miles and across billions of years to make us who we are.
Every one of us contains a billion times more atoms than all the grains of sand in the earth’s deserts. If you weigh 150 pounds, you’ve got enough carbon to make 25 pounds of charcoal, enough salt to fill a saltshaker, enough chlorine to disinfect several backyard swimming pools, and enough iron to forge a 3-inch nail. But how did these elements combine to make us human?
All matter—everything around us and within us—has an ultimate birthday: the day the universe was born. This informative, eye-opening, and eminently readable book is the story of our atoms’ long strange journey from the Big Bang to the creation of stars, through the assembly of Planet Earth, and the formation of life as we know it. It’s also the story of the scientists who made groundbreaking discoveries and unearthed extraordinary insights into the composition of life. Behind their unexpected findings were investigations marked by fierce rivalries, obsession, heartbreak, flashes of insight, and flukes of blind luck. Ultimately they’ve helped us understand the mystery of our existence: how a quadrillion atoms made of particles from the Big Bang now animate each of our cells.
Shaped by the curious mind and bold vision of science and history documentarian Dan Levitt, this wondrous book is no less than the story of life itself.
Dan Levitt has over twenty years of experience writing and producing award-winning science and history documentaries for the National Geographic, Discover, Science, and History Channels among others. He has worked with scientists throughout the world, including Sean B. Carroll, Jack Horner, and Michio Kaku. He lives with his family in Cambridge, Massachusetts. What’s Gotten Into You is his first book.
“A truly astonishing and eminently readable work of chemical detection, provocative, surprising and alive with moments when you just want to tug your neighbor’s sleeve and ask—can you believe this?” — Simon Winchester, bestselling author of The Perfectionists and editor of Lapham's Quarterly
"Dan Levitt's What's Gotten Into You is one fascinating journey, from the fireworks of the Big Bang to the busy life of cells, this is a story of scientific discovery, history, dazzling egos, quiet courage, and pure unexpected insight. In other words, the best kind of story. Don't miss it." — Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Poisoner's Handbook and The Poison Squad
"Levitt sheds light on the tiniest bits of what humans are made of in his stellar debut . . . . This is marvelous." — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“In What’s Gotten Into You, Dan Levitt delivers a survey of life’s building blocks that’s intelligent, accessible and just sheer fun.” — BookPage