Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

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John Murray Press, 2015 - COMICS & GRAPHIC NOVELS - 61 pages
11 Reviews
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From the No. 1 bestselling author of What If? - the man who created xkcd and explained the laws of science with cartoons - comes a series of brilliantly simple diagrams ('blueprints' if you want to be complicated about it) that show how important things work: from the nuclear bomb to the biro.

It's good to know what the parts of a thing are called, but it's much more interesting to know what they do. Richard Feynman once said that if you can't explain something to a first-year student, you don't really get it. In Thing Explainer, Randall Munroe takes a quantum leap past this: he explains things using only drawings and a vocabulary of just our 1,000 (or the ten hundred) most common words.

Many of the things we use every day - like our food-heating radio boxes ('microwaves'), our very tall roads ('bridges'), and our computer rooms ('datacentres') - are strange to us. So are the other worlds around our sun (the solar system), the big flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates), and even the stuff inside us (cells). Where do these things come from? How do they work? What do they look like if you open them up? And what would happen if we heated them up, cooled them down, pointed them in a different direction, or pressed this button?

In Thing Explainer, Munroe gives us the answers to these questions and many, many more. Funny, interesting, and always understandable, this book is for anyone -- age 5 to 105 -- who has ever wondered how things work, and why.

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User Review  - wishanem - LibraryThing

I liked the idea of this book more than I liked actually reading it. The diagrams made understanding complicated machines and processes easier, but the choice to use only the 10,000 most common words ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Paul_S - LibraryThing

I like the diagrams, I thing this would be so much better if it didn't limit its vocabulary. Or at least have the words in brackets and the the simple words explaining the hard words. Read full review

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About the author (2015)

Randall Munroe is the creator of the webcomic xkcd and author of xkcd: Volume 0. Randall was born in Easton, Pennsylvania, and grew up outside Richmond, Virginia. After studying physics at Christopher Newport University, he got a job building robots at NASA Langley Research Center. In 2006 he left NASA to draw comics on the internet full time, and has since been nominated for a Hugo Award three times. The International Astronomical Union recently named an asteroid after him: asteroid 4942 Munroe is big enough to cause mass extinction if it ever hits a planet like Earth.

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