I Contain Multitudes

Think “we” not “me.”

I Contain Multitudes offers a new lens on life. With an eye on microbes—microscopic single-celled organisms—larger creatures such as ourselves suddenly look very different. Each of us is a more of a society than an individual. Only about half the cells in or on our bodies are human. The rest make up a menagerie of microbes. Microbes produce chemicals and vitamins that we can’t produce on our own, they help digest food, shape development, and influence behavior.

And it’s not just a story about ourselves. Creatures from bats to termites, squid to koalas, vultures to iguanas all thrive thanks in part to an intricate and beautiful choreography with their fellow travelers, their microbes.

Our embrace of microbes, and theirs of us, is a pillar of life on Earth.

I Contain Multitudes, based on the book of the same name, premieres online in Fall 2017 with new weekly episodes. Some will be visits to a scientist’s lab with Ed as our guide. Others will show intriguing animal behavior as Ed explains the hidden microbial backstory. In yet other videos, Ed will answer viewers’ burning questions while tackling the biggest misconceptions about the microbial world.

Ed Yong, author of the New York Times bestseller I Contain Multitudes, has teamed up with HHMI Tangled Banks Studios for a series that explores the strange, wondrous, and vital realm of the microscopic. Meet scientists and the microbes that captivate them. Watch fascinating animal behavior that makes sense only in light of a microbial backstory. Discover how the living world that we see is shaped by an invisible world.

With an eye on microscopic, this series will reveal the big picture of what’s really driving life on Earth.


Ed Yong

Writer and Director:
Jon Halperin
Mark Mannucci

Art Director:
Drew Takahashi

Series Producer:
Elizabeth Westrate



Lars Woodruffe

Associate Producer:
Laura Jespersen

Director of Photography:
James Bell
Scott Sinkler

Scientific Advisors:
Jonathan Eisen
Jack Gilbert
Nancy Moran

For HHMI Tangled Bank Studios


Executive Producer:
John Rubin

Executive Director:
Dennis Liu

Director of Production:
Heather Forbes

Senior Manager of Outreach:
Laura Helft

Daniel Sheire

Aileen O'Hearn

Science Education Fellow:
Alex Duckles