What do bees see in flowers? What do songbirds hear in each other’s songs? And what do dogs smell on the street? These are some of the questions that Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Ed Yong will answer when he came to Intelligence Squared to talk about his new book An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us.
As Yong explained, every animal on the planet is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving just a tiny sliver of an immense world of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures, vibrations, and electric and magnetic fields.
He explained 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, and that plants thrum with the inaudible songs of courting bugs. And taking us beyond the confines of our own senses, he described turtles that can track the Earth’s magnetic fields, fish that fill rivers with electrical messages and humans that can wield sonar like bats.
‘An expansive, constantly revelatory exploration of the biosphere’s sensorium… Ed Yong is my favourite contemporary science writer’ – William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and The Peripheral
‘A stunning achievement – steeped in science but suffused with magic’ – Siddhartha Mukherjee, author The Emperor of All Maladies