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New book connects the human community to its cosmic roots
Date:1/8/2013

The 1969 "Woodstock" song by Joni Mitchell, it turns out, was onto something: "We are stardust / billion-year-old carbon."

University of Chicago evolutionary biologist, Neil Shubin, PhD, makes that connection between astronomical events and the human species in his new book, "The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People," a follow up to his 2008 best-seller, "Your Inner Fish."

Where "Your Inner Fish" goes back millions of years to look at the evolutionary links between human anatomy and other animals around the world, "The Universe Within" goes back billions of years and extends out to the universe to trace the impact of cosmic events on the human body.

Shubin explains in the prologue for "The Universe Within" that it became clear while writing his first book that the creatures he initially focused on, such as fish, worms and algae, "are but gateways to ever deeper connectionsones that extend back billions of years before the presence of life and of Earth itself."

He goes on to explain how the molecules that compose our bodies "arose in stellar events in the distant origins of the solar system." Written inside humans, Shubin argues, "is the birth of the stars, the movement of heavenly bodies across the sky, even the origin of days themselves."

"Every organ, cell, and gene of our bodies contains artifacts of the history of the universe, solar system and planet," said Shubin, professor and associate dean for the Department of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. "This is the story of our deep connection to the physical world as seen in stars, rocks, and the workings of DNA."

The book, to be released Jan. 8, received advanced praise.

The Universe Within is a "fascinating, accessible tour of how life on Earth, including our own, has been shaped by many upheavals in our planet's long history," Sean Carroll, PhD, vice president for science
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Contact: John Easton
john.easton@uchospitals.edu
773-795-5225
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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