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Ed Yong on the Magical World of Animal Senses

The Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist explores the strange and magical way other animals experience our world.

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.   

Praise for Ed Yong’s An Immense World

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



Ed Yong

Bestselling science writer and author of An Immense World.

Bestselling science writer on the staff of The Atlantic, where he won the Pulitzer Prize in explanatory journalism for his coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the George Polk Award for science reporting, among other honours. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, National Geographic, Wired, The New York Times, Scientific American, and more. His first book, I Contain Multitudes, about the amazing partnerships between microbes and animals, was shortlisted for the Royal Society Science Book Prize and the Wellcome Book Prize and was a New York Times bestseller.

Chrissie Giles

Global health editor at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London

Writer and editor who is currently global health editor at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London. Previously she worked for Wellcome, one of the world’s largest health foundations, where she was editor of the award-winning longform health and science publication Mosaic.