Thing Explainer

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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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