St. Martin's Press, 2014
Agent: Sandra Dijkstra
What do atoms have to do with your life? In Your Atomic Self, scientist Curt Stager reveals how they connect you to some of the most amazing things in the universe.
You will follow your oxygen atoms through fire and water and from forests to your fingernails. Hydrogen atoms will wriggle into your hair and betray where you live and what you have been drinking. The carbon in your breath will become tree trunks, and the sodium in your tears will link you to long-dead oceans. The nitrogen in your muscles will help to turn the sky blue, the phosphorus in your bones will help to turn the coastal waters of North Carolina green, the calcium in your teeth will crush your food between atoms that were mined by mushrooms, and the iron in your blood will kill microbes as it once killed a star.
You will also discover that much of what death must inevitably do to your body is already happening among many of your atoms at this very moment and that, nonetheless, you and everyone else you know will always exist somewhere in the fabric of the universe.
You are not only made of atoms; you are atoms, and this book, in essence, is an atomic field guide to yourself.
"A wondrous exploration of how our interconnections are vast and abiding, past, present and future.”
"We often hear that we are literally “stardust,” the atoms in our bodies having come from stars that exploded billions of years ago. A less commonly known fact is that some of the atoms inside us are much younger, such as the radioactive carbon 14 atoms created by atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons during the cold war. Ecologist and writer Stager details this and other atomic curiosities in a tour of our bodies' elements. These include nitrogen from thunder, carbon from exhaust pipes and iron from stellar cores. “Every scent you've ever savored,” Stager writes, “every sight you've ever seen, every song you've ever enjoyed, every cry or sigh that ever passed your lips sprang from atoms at work within the atmosphere and the darkest recesses of your body.”
"Curt Stager takes us on a ride into Wonderland, exploring in an intimate way how different atoms and molecules are essential to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. After reading Your Atomic Self, you won’t take even the most basic elements of natural life for granted anymore."
—Neil F. Comins, author of What if the Earth had Two Moons?
“Stager's book is nothing short of a tour-de-force through modern science, viewed through the lens of the chemical elements. Best of all, he succeeds in being scientifically accurate and entertaining at the same time.”
—Eric Scerri, author of A Tale of Seven Elements.
“Curt Stager is the finest and most entertaining explainer I've ever come across. Read this book and I guarantee you that the world--and your own darned self--will look very different to you in the future.”
—Bill McKibben, author Wandering Home