Drake Baer of Business Insider Puts This Book at the Top of His List
In “Thing Explainer” Randall Monroe describes how everything from rockets to smartphones to the US Constitution work — using just the 1,000 most commonly used words in English.
Gates says that it’s a “brilliant concept,” because if “you can’t explain something simply, you don’t really understand it.”
And Monroe, a former NASA roboticist and creator of beloved web comic XKCD, is just the guy to do it.
One of his favorite explanations is why microwaves (which Munroe calls a radio box) cook frozen foods unevenly:
When you put iced food in a radio box, after a while, parts of it start to turn to water. But since radio boxes are really good at heating water, those parts start to get hot really fast. They can even get so hot they start turning to air—before all the ice is even gone!”
Not only does the book give you a better understanding of how the objects in our lives work, but it’s a lesson in making complicated ideas relatable.
It’s “a wonderful guide for curious minds,” Gates says.