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Bringing the science of the immune system to life

This new book shares our belief in the value of storytelling and design to bring medical science to life

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27 October 2021

By: Cognite

We love creative ideas that help bring medical science to life, which is why we are looking forward to next week’s publication of Philipp Dettmer’s Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System That Keeps You Alive. The book uses beautiful, full colour graphics, engaging descriptions and clever metaphors to help readers make sense of the wonderful complexity of our immune system.

Dettmer is the founder of Kurzgesagt, German for ‘In a nutshell’, a Munich-based YouTube channel and design studio that is best known for its animated videos explaining the wonders of science, space, technology and biology. The company’s philosophy is one that we share – ‘We want to make science look beautiful. Because it is beautiful.’

Kurzgesagt has become one of the largest popular science channels on YouTube with over 16.5 million subscribers and one billion views. Here’s a typical example of one of its videos, explaining The Bacteriophage – the single deadliest being on our planet. It typifies the Kurzgesagt approach of focusing on storytelling, often with humour, rather than dry facts. It may be ‘popular’ science, but it doesn’t dumb-down.

Immune introduces readers to every element of the immune system, using the metaphor of a fortress experiencing attack and defence. Threats posed by bacteria, allergies and cancer are countered by defences such as antibodies and inflammation. Dettmer describes how there is a constant battle of staggering scale raging within us, full of stories of invasion, strategy, defeat, and noble self-sacrifice involving ‘soldiers, captains, intelligence officers, heavy weapons and crazy suicide bombers’, which are words we never read in our biology textbooks.  For a summary, we’d recommend checking out Kurzgesagt’s YouTube video on How the immune system actually works.  

The book is available to pre-order on Amazon in English and German.

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