An Immense World

How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us

by

Hardcover, 464 pages

English language

Published June 1, 2022 by Penguin Random House.

ISBN:
978-1-4735-7273-7
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5 stars (23 reviews)

The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electric and magnetic fields. But every kind of animal, including humans, is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving but a tiny sliver of our immense world.

In An Immense World, author and Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Ed Yong coaxes us beyond the confines of our own senses, allowing us to perceive the skeins of scent, waves of electromagnetism, and pulses of pressure that surround us. We encounter beetles that are drawn to fires, turtles that can track the Earth's magnetic fields, fish that fill rivers with electrical messages, and even humans who wield sonar like bats. We discover that a crocodile's scaly face is as sensitive as a lover's fingertips, that the eyes of a giant squid evolved to see sparkling whales, that plants thrum with the inaudible songs of courting bugs, and that even …

5 editions

Animals experience different realities than we do

5 stars

We tend to think the way we experience the world is the way it is. But animals, using or emphasizing different and other senses than our five, may experience ‘reality’ in entirely different ways. Young leads us on a deep dive into the sensory experiences of animals.

Title

5 stars

“Five senses,” they told me. How chauvinistic that seems now. Understandably so, but still.

Remember [book:Flatland|433567]? (I like to think everyone read that in grade school but am now wondering if it was only us math geeks?) Anyhow, Immense World brought back those feelings of wonder; of imagining what we know is out there but can never, ever fully understand. A dog navigating the world through smell. The countless ways of arranging color receptors, giving some animals a visual experience we can barely even describe. Touch. Vibration, through air (sound) and through ground. Sensing electrical fields. Magnetic fields! How little we know! And of course, [book:bats|197189543]. All creatures taking their senses for granted, just like we do, but we have that amazing ability to study and learn and devise instruments that help us see-hear-sense farther. And to imagine.

“[...] we can try to step into their worlds. We must choose …

My review of "An immense world"

5 stars

Loved listening to this as an audiobook. As a science book, it was really educational about what we know about the 'umwelt' of the creatures that we share the world with. More than that, it also talks about the effect humans have had on these that most of us don't realize.

Review of 'An Immense World' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Ed Yong writes for the Atlantic, and his articles were among the clearest and most rational on Covid-19 during the pandemic lockdown. He has written a fascinating and outstanding discussion and review of the sensory world of animals including ourselves. Each chapter is about a different sense; smell, vision, touch, etc.

Which animal has the highest visual acuity?
Why are Zebras striped?
What colors can your pet dog see?
Why do raptors fly into wind turbines?
Can an octopus see its own skin color changes?
Why do hummingbirds make ultrasonic sounds?
Why can’t you tickle yourself?

And there are also some excellent words to learn, Umwelt, Zugunruhe (my favorite), exafference, and reafference. I highly recommend An Immense World and I’ve added his previous book I Contain Multitudes to my to read list.

A wonderful book about the sensory world experienced by various other creatures.

5 stars

An impressive book, full of wonderful facts and some grounded speculations looking at how various creatures sense, and make sense, of the world around them. Ed Yong (the author) reminds us that trying to understand the behaviour of creatures based on what we can sense can be futile. And by forcing creatures into a human centric world (near constant lighting at night, urban noise, artificial chemicals in the environment), we may be altering their behaviour and damaging the natural biodiversity.

Ed Yong starts by introducing the reader to the term, Umwelt (as used by biologist Jakob von Uexkül) to represent each creature's unique perception of the world. He then shows us the Umwelts of various creatures as experienced through the various senses: smell, taste, light, colour, the sensation of pain and heat, contact, vibrations and sound. He then covers three of the more mysterious senses; echolocation and the ability to …

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