“A truly astonishing and eminently readable work of chemical detection, provocative, surprising and alive with moments when you just want to tug your neighbor’s sleeve and askcan you believe this?”

— Simon Winchester, bestselling author of The Perfectionists and editor of Lapham's Quarterly

About Dan

Dan Levitt spent over twenty-five years writing, producing, and directing award-winning documentaries for National Geographic, Discovery, Science, History, PBS, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He began his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, teaching high school physics and biology. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife, two children, and their dog, Maxwell Smart.

About What’s Gotten Into You

For readers of Bill Bryson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Siddhartha Mukherjee

Every one of us contains a billion times more atoms than all the grains of sand in the earth’s deserts. If you weigh 150 pounds, you’ve got enough carbon to make 25 pounds of charcoal, enough salt to fill a saltshaker, enough chlorine to disinfect several backyard swimming pools, and enough iron to forge a 3-inch nail. But how did these elements combine to make us human?

This eye-opening popular science book tells how scientists traced our atoms journeys from the beginning of time. Behind their unexpected findings were investigations marked by fierce rivalries, obsession, heartbreak, flashes of insight, and flukes of blind luck.

Read a CNN article on What's Gotten Into You

Praise for Dan


“Dan Levitt's What's Gotten Into You is one fascinating journey, from the fireworks of the Big Bang to the busy life of cells, this is a story of scientific discovery, history, dazzling egos, quiet courage, and pure unexpected insight. In other words, the best kind of story. Don't miss it.”

—Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Poisoner's Handbook and The Poison Squad


“Levitt sheds light on the tiniest bits of what humans are made of in his stellar debut . . . . This is marvelous.”

—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“You are billons of years old and brand new at the same time and if you want to know how you came to be and how gloriously lucky and mysterious it is to be here, read this book.”

Robert Krulwhich, cofounder of Radiolab

Fun Facts

Watch a Documentary by Dan

Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree