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.