The Universe Inside You by Brian Clegg
I thought that I knew a fair bit about the human body and how it works: it seems that I’m wrong. Brian Clegg, the author of The Universe Inside You, has subtitled this book The Extreme Science of the Human Body from Quantum Theory to the Mysteries of the Brain and this is a sensible subtitle to have as he attempts to explain how the human body works and how it relates to the entire universe. Trying to fit that into 300 pages would be regarded by some as a touch ambitious but they would be wrong. This is an enjoyable, informative book that, in general, makes complex issues accessible and easy to follow.
The author starts with the big stuff of quantum theory and how atoms are made which neatly provides a platform for a discussion of how we are made and thus how we fit into the wider scheme of things. I will freely admit to having had to read a few paragraphs twice to ensure that I understood what was being explained (I must have been off sick the day quantum physics was covered at school) but, given that this underpins the rest of the book, it is well worth doing. Some of the numbers involved can be a little hard to comprehend (apparently my body contains more than a billion atoms for every second that the universe has existed) and I had to take them on trust but, once this is done, everything is easy to follow.
The rest of the book is logically broken down into various subject matters such as vision, digestion, sensory perception, reproduction and the brain. These simple concepts are used to explain matters ranging from how light moves (using Baywatch to explain it), why attractive women can render men literally speechless (with no alcohol involved), how bumble bees fly and kangaroos hop (both apparently generating energy from nothing) and why aspirin trademark rights featured in the Treaty of Versailles (a subject not always covered in peace treaties). Clegg includes a number of experiments that you can do to demonstrate his points (some on the Internet and some in the home) and these add significant value and work well in ensuring you understand the subject.
To satisfy your own simple curiosity or answer the questions from a bored eight year old child on a rainy Sunday (I speak from experience), I would recommend this book. Not being a science type myself, I did not think that I would enjoy reviewing this book but I was wrong, as the author has a talent for rendering potentially complex subjects much simpler and uses good examples to ensure that it is understood. It is an excellent read which I enjoyed very much.
Four out of five
Untallguy The Universe Inside You
by Brian Clegg published by Icon Books Click here to buy from Amazon