The Sounds of Life

The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants

Selected as one of Malcolm Gladwell’s Next Big Idea Club nominees in October 2022

NPR Science Friday Book Club Book of the Month, November 2022

“Thoughtful and rigorous…meticulously researched and colorfully presented…in a way that is accessible to non-experts. A wonderful mix of animal ecology, narratives of science-doing, futurism, and accounts of Indigenous knowledge that is as interdisciplinary as the field itself.” – Science

The natural world teems with remarkable conversations, many beyond human hearing range. Groundbreaking scientists are using novel digital technologies to uncover these astonishing sounds, revealing vibrant communication among our fellow creatures across the Tree of Life.

At once meditative and scientific, The Sounds of Life shares fascinating and surprising stories of nonhuman sound, interweaving insights from technological innovation and traditional knowledge. We meet scientists using sound to protect and regenerate endangered species from the Great Barrier Reef to the Arctic and the Amazon. We discover the shocking impacts of noise pollution on both animals and plants. We learn how artificial intelligence can decode nonhuman sounds, and meet the researchers building dictionaries in East African Elephant and Sperm Whalish. At the frontiers of innovation, we explore digitally mediated dialogues with bats and honeybees. Technology often distracts us from nature, but what if it could reconnect us instead?

The Sounds of Life offers hope for environmental conservation and affirms humanity’s relationship with nature in the digital age after learning about the unsuspected wonders of nature’s sounds.