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Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple…
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Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words (2015)

by Randall Munroe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
In Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, things are explained in the style of Up Goer Five, using only drawings and a vocabulary of the 1,000 (or "ten hundred") most common words. Explore computer buildings (datacenters), the flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates), the things you use to steer a plane (airliner cockpit controls), and the little bags of water you're made of (cells).
  Clippers | Dec 21, 2017 |
(Rating: 3.5 /5.0, rounded down) ( )
  rabbit.blackberry | Oct 19, 2017 |
(Rating: 3.5 /5.0, rounded down) ( )
  rabbit.blackberry | Oct 19, 2017 |
Best for: People looking for fun, quick explanations of common machines (like helicopters or washer/dryers) and nature (like the night sky).

In a nutshell: Creator of xkcd brings his cute drawings and research skills to a large-format book.

Line that sticks with me: None really, but I did chuckle a bunch.

Why I chose it: I thoroughly enjoyed his book “What If” https://cannonballread.com/2015/03/when-has-physics-made-you-laugh/ - it was one of my top books last year. So it seemed natural to pick up his next one.

Review: This is a mostly great book that takes on a some of the things that many of us probably have questions about in the physical realm. Like, do you know all the parts of your dish washer and how they work? Okay, what about a submarine? Or a nuclear power plant?

Mr. Munroe takes on these - and 40 other machines and bits of our natural world. He provides detailed schematics and describes what each bit does, using plain language. In fact, I believe he tried to use only 1,000 different words to describe really complicated processes.

And this where the book loses one star from me. I appreciate what he is going for, but especially for machines and components of the natural world that I have some knowledge of (like, for example, cells), I found it more confusing that he never used the correct terms. Like the International Space Station becomes the Shared Space House. Of a nuclear power plant becomes the Heavy Metal Power Building. I found that to be confusing and not helpful in me taking what I learn here and being able to recall it when I heard these things discussed using the proper terms.

My favorite bit was the break-down of the U.S. Constitution; I think it’s possibly the best section-by-section synopsis of that document I’ve ever read. Seriously, I think civics teachers should hand this out before they talk about that time in U.S. history.

If you are going to read this, I strongly recommend you get the hardcover version. These drawings should be seen at full size, and there’s a pull-out poster of a skyscraper in the back! ( )
  ASKelmore | Aug 27, 2017 |
This book's page count makes one think this would be an easy book to read, right? WRONG. It's filled with brilliant details and illustrations, using 1,000 of the most widely used words in the English language. I definitely recommend this, but don't go into this thinking you can read it in one sitting. It needs to be appreciated. ( )
  EllAreBee | Jul 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Munroe, RandallAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gleason, ChristinaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, BrianCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544668251, Hardcover)

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, he uses line drawings and only the thousand (or, rather, “ten hundred”) most common words to provide 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? In Thing Explainer, Munroe gives us the answers to these questions and so 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 07 Jul 2015 04:34:52 -0400)

The creator of the popular webcomic "xkcd" uses line drawings and common words to provide simple explanations for how things work, including microwaves, bridges, tectonic plates, the solar system, the periodic table, helicopters, and other essential concepts.… (more)

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