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Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

I'm in love with this book that uses only pictures and the thousand (ahem, I think you mean ten-hundred) most commonly used words to explain the complicated science behind the universe's most interesting things, from planes with turning wings (helicopters) to the big flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates) to the shared space house (the International Space Station). Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd, does this with humor and a surprising level of brilliance and insight. So fun. [Kenny]

— From Thing Explainer


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.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780544668256
ISBN-10: 0544668251
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: November 24th, 2015
Pages: 64
Language: English