Title: The Zoomable Universe

Author: Caleb Scharf

Illustrator: Ron Miller

Publisher: Atlantic Books

Rating: 4/5



I’m not really an astronomy or science enthusiast.

So as I sat down ready to read Caleb Scharf’s The Zoomable Universe – a “visually inspiring tour through space and time,” an exploration of “the subatomic realm of quarks and quanta,” a “course through galaxies, black holes, solar systems” – I was seriously questioning what I was doing.

However, while I’ve been recently locked up in my little bubble of life battling the typical student woes, a thought had been nagging me. What’s out there?

Out there, beyond the day-to-day world. What is space? What about the sheer hugeness of the universe? On the same train of thought, just what’s within us? Just how complicated is the fabric that creates humans? How does everything somehow connect?

We can become so engrossed in the things within our little bubble that we forget the sheer magnitude of reality. Then something like The Zoomable Universe, accentuated with powerful images by Ron Miller, comes along and pops that isolating bubble, leaving you a tad breathless because reality just knocked the air out of you.

Scharf takes readers through the different magnitudes and scales of the universe, “from the infinite to the infinitesimal.” It’s a journey through what we humans – miniscule organisms in the grand scale of things – have discovered through years of scientific research. And, as Scharf points out, what we collectively know is only a fraction of what’s thought to be out there.

Although it may be a tad confronting to face such overwhelming concepts – dark matter, consciousness, multiverses, and quantum mechanics, to name a few – the book is paced as a captivating introductory course to make this journey through the universe a bit less rocky for even the fellow novice. Such concepts unlock a whole range of realisations and perspectives that just might challenge the way you think everyday.

The Zoomable Universe is a thought-provoking and inspiring read, taking readers through the great extremes of the observable world to the microscopic. Whether you’re an astronomy and science enthusiast or not, Scharf invites us to awaken our dormant childlike curiosity to renew our understanding and appreciation of the beautifully complex reality we share.

It is a book of wonders, perfect for a casual weekend read, to put things into perspective and witness the kaleidoscopic unfolding of simply everything.  


MARIE YSABEL LANDINGIN is known by many names, from childhood nicknames to a certain tropical fruit. She has a massive list of things to do, but should probably get some sleep first. An open-minded urban planning student aspiring to somehow change the world for the better.