Dan Levitt is the author of What’s Gotten Into You: The Story of Your Body’s Atoms, from the Big Bang Through Last Night’s Dinner. The book brings together a lifetime of discovery and research that led to a sweet spot where history meets science. He fondly recalls a chemistry kit his parents gave him when he was seven; he had a great time recording his results in a small notebook. He still misses those musty cards that he used to browse as he researched assignments as a student in Philadelphia’s public schools. In high school, his favorite class was chemistry, and that’s what he thought he would study, but then he found cognitive psychology at Swarthmore College.
In the Peace Corps in Kenya, Dan taught high school physics, biology, and world history in a remote village. Living close to Mount Kilimanjaro, walking by anthills as tall as people, and seeing snakes, hippos, and other wildlife, gave him an intense curiosity about the natural world. He returned to Philadelphia to take a job developing exhibits and videos at the Franklin Institute Science Museum. That led to an interest in documentary filmmaking. After getting an MFA, Dan moved to Boston and started his career writing, producing and directing documentaries for Discovery, Science, National Geographic, History, HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute), and others. His productions include films on dinosaurs; how Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and Hawking made their greatest discoveries; the archeology of Custer’s Last Stand; and scientist’s efforts to uncover the cause of Malaysia’s Nipah virus. His work has received numerous awards including two Cine-Golden Eagles, Emmy award nominations, and the coveted Spur Award for script writing from the Western Writers of America.
While dreaming up films, Dan was seized by an idea for a book and decided to go for it.What’s Gotten Into You: The Story of Your Body’s Atoms, from the Big Bang Through Last Night’s Dinner, published by HarperCollins is his first book.
He considers himself lucky that his career combines science, history, and writing, all of which he loves. He lives in Cambridge with his other loves: his wife, two kids, and their dog, Maxwell Smart.