Thursday, December 3
Maybe you’re already among the millions of people who wait in hot anticipation for a new comic from Randall Munroe’s site xkcd.com three times a week. Or maybe you were enchanted by his hilarious, eye-opening anthology What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. Either way, you already know you want to talk about his new book.
Have you ever tried to learn more about some incredible thing, only to be frustrated by incomprehensible jargon? Randall Munroe is here to help. In Thing Explainer, Munroe provides simple explanations for some of the most interesting stuff there is, including:
- food-heating radio boxes (microwaves)
- tall roads (bridges)
- computer buildings (datacenters)
- the shared space house (the International Space Station)
- the other worlds around the sun (the solar system)
- the big flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates)
- the pieces everything is made of (the periodic table)
- planes with turning wings (helicopters)
- boxes that make clothes smell better (washers and dryers)
- the bags of stuff inside you (cells)
How do these things work? Where do they come from? What would life be like without them? And what would happen if we opened them up, heated them up, cooled them down, pointed them in a different direction, or pressed this button?
Inspired by his mega-popular webcomic “Up Goer Five,” in which Munroe clearly unpacks the anatomy of a Saturn V rocket, the new book is a series of brilliantly—and simply—annotated blueprints that explain everything from ballpoint pens to the solar system using line drawings, Munroe’s signature stick-figure doodles, and only the thousand most common English words.
Randall Munroe is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller What If?, the science question-and-answer blog What If, and the popular webcomic xkcd. A former NASA roboticist, he left the agency in 2006 to draw comics on the Internet full-time, supporting himself through the sale of xkcd t-shirts, prints, posters, and books. He likes candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach. Very long walks. Lots of people say they like long walks on the beach, but then they get out on the beach and after just an hour or two, they say they're getting tired. Bring a tent. He lives in Massachusetts.