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Thing Explainer : Complicated Stuff in Simple Words - Randall Munroe

Thing Explainer

Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

Hardcover Published: 24th November 2015
ISBN: 9781473620919
Number Of Pages: 64

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From the 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.

About the Author

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.

Industry Reviews

A brilliant concept. If you can't explain something simply, you don't really understand it. And Randall Munroe is the perfect guy to take on a project like this . . . If you know Munroe's previous work, it will come as no surprise that parts of Thing Explainer are laugh-out-loud funny . . . filled with cool basic knowledge about how the world works. If one of Munroe's drawings inspires you to go learn more about a subject - including a few extra terms - then he will have done his job. He has written a wonderful guide for curious minds - BILL GATES

In the crowded field of trivia, nothing beats Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe, the physicist-turned-comic-artist, a sequel to What If ? . . . It is very funny and has something quite serious to say about our misplaced faith in long words - Telegraph

Thing Explainer gets to the real essence of things - New Scientist

Like any good work of science writing, [Thing Explainer] is equal parts lucid, funny, and startling - NewYorker.com

In just over a decade Randall Munroe has become firmly established and it's safe to say adored as the author of xkcd. Now, Munroe has produced a book - and Thing Explainer isn't just any book. It's beautiful, packed with facts, figures and richly and simply presented diagrams - Register

Wonderful - Neil Gaiman

Reliably amusing and often enlightening - The Times, Books of the Year

Absolutely fascinating . . . If there's a technologically minded child in your family, Thing Explainer would be a wonderful gift and a great book to work through together, comparing these diagrams and simple-English explanations to the "proper names" you can easily find online. If you're an adult who knows most of this stuff already, it's a beautifully designed journey through the intricacies of daily life, which might still have some surprises in store - Guardian

Explaining the Thing Explainer


Interesting to read and good for learning all about how a thing works. Although it needs at least a bit of understanding of the thing first. How else would you know what a machine for burning cities is? Not for younger readers, even with the pretty pictures. This look over of the book was written with only the 1000 most used words.



Another funny book from the author


This book provides you much fun by describing things in a hilarious way, and in the meanwhile, indeed explains a bit this and that. Well, readers should be warned not to use this book as a reference. Obviously, calling a set of lock-and-key "shape checker" is somehow an overshot in trying NOT to calling things properly. But the main purpose of this book is to entertain, not to explain.



A gimmick - this book is terrible


This book is awful. The gimmick of using only the "ten hundred" most common words makes it impossible to understand as it takes dumbing down to a whole new level (a key is a"shape checker", an atomic bomb is "a machine for burning cities"). I bought this book for my kids to browse and learn and they didn't get past the first page. Obscure and boring.



Thing Explainer

3.3 3


ISBN: 9781473620919
ISBN-10: 1473620910
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 64
Published: 24th November 2015
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 33.6 x 23.8  x 1.5
Weight (kg): 0.81
Edition Number: 1
Edition Type: Illustrated

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