Ed Yong Profile picture
Jan 18 14 tweets 4 min read
My new book—AN IMMENSE WORLD—comes out this summer. It’s about how other animals sense the world, and the very different version of reality that they perceive.

Here’s a thread about the book, why I wrote it, and why I hope you'll enjoy it. 1/

bookshop.org/books/an-immen… Two covers of An Immense World, one showing a ring of animal
All animals share the same world, but every species perceives a mere sliver of it. Each is trapped in a unique sensory bubble. This book is my attempt to step inside those bubbles, and imagine what it's truly like to be a bat—or a whale, spider, scallop, or star-nosed mole. 2/
I traveled around 3 continents (pre-pandemic!) for this book. I got punched by a mantis shrimp, shocked by an electric fish, and snuzzled by a manatee. I hung out with spiders, turtles, octopuses, rattlesnakes, butterflies, seals... and a lot of delightful scientists. 3/
Other creatures see colors, hear sounds, follow skeins of scent, and detect electric or magnetic fields that we can’t perceive. They have different conceptions of heat, pain, darkness, and silence. Their senses help us to reimagine our own surroundings. 4/
I find it breathtaking to know what birds hear in their own songs, what dogs smell on the streets, what insects feel as they stand on plants. To perceive the world through other senses is to find splendor in familiarity, wilderness in one’s backyard, the sacred in the mundane. 5/
And being able to even contemplate another creature’s sensory world at all is an utterly profound act. There’s so much info out there that no animal could perceive it all and no animal needs to. Our senses filter in what we need. We must *choose* to learn about the rest. 6/
My first book—I CONTAIN MULTITUDES—showed how intimately the unseen microbes in our bodies affect our lives. This next one continues that theme of showing how our world is deeper and richer than we know. 7/
AN IMMENSE WORLD is not a book about “super senses”. There are no lists of animals with the best hearing or vision or whatever. This isn’t a book about superiority. It’s a book about diversity. 8/
Every page of this should have something to blow your mind, something to linger and mull over, something you’ll want to tell your friends about. I *loved* writing this book, and I think you’ll be able to see that joy on the page. 9/
Some of you only know my work from the last two years. If you’ve enjoyed my writing in the context of a global disaster, imagine what it’d be like when I’m writing about something I truly love—nature’s limitless wonder. 10/
I wrote half of this book before the pandemic & half during it. It’s not about the pandemic, and yet... it *is* about radical acts of empathy & perspective-taking, and I can’t help but feel that it's relevant in a world where the lack of those qualities has cost us so dearly. 11/
The title comes from William Blake:

How do you know but ev’ry Bird
that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight,
clos’d by your senses five?

And the idea for the book comes from Liz Neeley, my wife, who supported me throughout the writing process; who exemplifies the empathy, joy, and compassion at the book’s core; and who, more than anyone else, sees me. This book was her gift to me, and also mine to her. 13/
AN IMMENSE WORLD is available to pre-order now. I hope you’ll read it, and I especially hope that you’ll enjoy it. It’s a joyful book, and we could all use more joy in our lives. 14/


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More from @edyong209

Jan 14
It's real!

This cover is for the UK edition, out Jun 22.

The US edition is out Jul 12 w/ a different cover; I'll show you that one in a couple of days, and say more about what this book's about and why I hope you'll enjoy it.
And yes, that is Typo (my corgi) on the cover.
And here's the US cover!

I love how both covers capture, in very different but complementary ways, the promise of the book--a chance to look at nature in a different and newly wondrous way.
Read 4 tweets
Jan 12
I've interviewed a lot of health-care workers over the last two years, at various points of the pandemic.

Here's something you should bear in mind as you read these stories (and their first-hand accounts) about what they're experiencing. 1/

I've often found that health-care workers are at their rawest and most emotionally vulnerable in the lulls, when hospitals are quieter (tho not quiet) and they can exhale and process. That's when people have just broken down on the phone. Or quit. 2/
By contrast, during the actual surges, they're more likely to be in adrenaline mode. They're just trying to get through it, to put aside the trauma so they can do their jobs. They have armor on, and if you listen, you really can hear it in their answers and their voices. 3/
Read 4 tweets
Jan 12
🚨I wrote about the debate about whether people are being hospitalized "for COVID" or just "with COVID".

Many supposedly 'incidental' infections are being misleadingly described & minimized.

And whatever the case, hospitals are in serious trouble 1/

Yes, some COVID hospitalizations really are incidental--someone breaks a limb and only finds out they have COVID when tested.

These exist, but the docs & nurses I've spoken to all say they're uncommon. 2/

Far more common are folks w/ chronic illnesses--heart problems, diabetes, etc.--that are being seriously exacerbated by COVID. Said illness might be listed as reason for admission, but the admission wouldn't have happened if they hadn't been infected. 3/

Read 9 tweets
Jan 7
🚨I wrote about what this surge is doing to the healthcare system.
It's bad.
Though less severe, Omicron is spreading quickly enough to inundate hospitals, which can't handle the strain cos so many healthcare workers had quit or are now sick. 1/
The most important thing about this surge: It comes *after all the others*, & finds a workforce that’s exhausted, demoralized, & smaller because of waves of resignations.
Today’s system can’t handle what it used to handle. It must now handle a LOT. 2/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
COVID hospitalizations rose 40k to 65k in the 7 weeks before Christmas, and then to 110k in the 2 wks since.
The CDC is forecasting 25-54k extra patients *per day* by end-Jan.
That's... not good. 3/ theatlantic.com/health/archive…
Read 16 tweets
Dec 23, 2021
I'm going to log off and try and take a break.

This piece lays out the stakes for the next few weeks.

And here's one last thread reflecting on my experience of covering the pandemic's second year. 1/

I think the pandemic traps us (people broadly, and journalists specifically) in the present moment, always reacting (too late) to the current surge or lull. But to really understand how we got here and how to get out, we need to grapple with the past, both recent and distant. 2/
So I wrote about the ways in which trauma lingers, even when some semblance of safety is reached... 3/
Read 17 tweets
Dec 17, 2021
I turn 40 today. I was planning to have a party but I canceled it last week because of Omicron.

I wrote about why I made that call, and how I thought about the risks—to myself, to my friends, and to our society. 1/

This piece isn't a lecture or advice column. It's just me walking through my thoughts as I try to apply the lessons learned from my reporting to my own life.

I know many people are struggling with decisions about gatherings so maybe this might help. 2/

(Just had to jinx it, didn't you, kiddo?)

Read 6 tweets

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