Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words
Have you ever felt lost or downright stupid when someone explains something to you? Whether intentionally or not, techspeak and technical jargon can prove incredibly alienating and disheartening to the average reader. So imagine if someone could keep it simple without losing all the impressiveness and wonder that comes with understanding.
XKCD’s Randall Munroe has dismantled that challenge with Thing Explainer, a collection of detailed images explaining both fundamental and complex concepts, but only using the thousand most common words. (Or, as he puts it, the ten-hundred most common words.)
The International Space Station, cells, nuclear power plants, washer-dryers, helicopters, The Constitution, atomic bombs, elevators, units of measurement, all of them come to life under the cleverly executed guidance of Munroe. With fold-out pages for larger, more expansive subjects — like the sky, the planet, the periodic table, skyscrapers, and more — he has ample room to explain.
The Large Hadron Collider becomes the big tiny thing hitter. Bridges become tall roads, and microwaves become food-heating radio boxes. My favorite was “strong pretty ring-wearer” for his wife. Thing Explainer manages to be incredibly informative, interesting, and hilarious all at once. What a treat.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt