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Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

Have you ever tried to be informed more about some fantastic thing, only to be frustrated by incomprehensible jargon?  Randall Munroe is here to lend a hand.  In Thing Explainer, he uses line drawings and only the thousand (or, fairly, “ten hundred”) most common words to provide simple explanations for one of the crucial 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 continue to exist (tectonic plates)
  • the pieces the whole lot 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 such a lot of more. Funny, interesting, and at all times understandable, this book is for any individual—age 5 to 105—who has ever wondered how things work, and why.


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