Thing Explainer Complicated Stuff in Simple Words PDF

Thing Explainer Complicated Stuff in Simple Words Del ingeniero de la NASA creador de la web humorísticaxkcd y autor delbest seller ¿ué pasaría sí nos llega una serie de dibujos con descripciones brillantes y simples ue lo explican todo desde los reactores nucleares hasta los bolígrafos¿Has intentado alguna vez aprender algo sobre una cosa maravillosa solo para frustrarte después ante una jerga incomprensibleRandall Munroe está auí para ayudarteUtilizando únicamente dibujos esuemáticos y las mil palabras o mejor dicho los diez cientos más comunes en nuestro idioma para dar explicaciones sencillas sobre algunas de las cosas más interesantes ue existen incluyendo Calentador de comida con ondas microondas Carreteras en alto puentes Edificio con ordenadores centro de procesamiento de datos Casa compartida en el espacio Estación Espacial Internacional Mundos alrededor del sol sistema solar Placas de roca sobre las ue vivimos placas tectónicas Elementos de los ue está hecho todo tabla periódica Barco volador con alar giratorias helicóptero Máuinas para ue la ropa huela mejor lavadora y secadora Aparatos ue tienes dentro órganos Thanks to Giulio for this wonderful Christmas gift It's been great fun to read and I think I understand some rather complicated things that I had no clue about before Great coffee table bookStill pondering whether or not my G thinks I'm stupid We all have one that person we'd prefer to get along with but every time they open their mouth so much stupid erupts that low level irritation shifts into rage there's a certain political figure that I react to every timeThat about sums up my experience with Thing ExplainerEvery time I picked it up intending to read a few 'cartoons' explaining concepts like helicopters the cell elevators or the auto engine I'd end up either generally annoyed or uite specifically angry Thing Explainer fails on so many levels for me it was shocking I went into it hoping for the grown up version of Charlie Brown's Super Book of uestions and Answers about All Kinds of Animals from Snails to People Based on the Charles M Schulz Characters and instead found cartoon explanations of things I still don't understand such as how all the parts of a car work together I understand that it was supposed to be funny but I was hoping for informative as wellIt wasn'tLanguage is meant to communicate ideas Generally complex ideas reuire specific words to convey meaning Remember when you last talked to a two or three year old and everything with four legs was 'dog' everything that flew was a 'bird' and every time someone cried they must be 'sad?' When we are just beginning to understand words represent things and concepts simple language suffices but as we grow in age and sophistication we learn words can be specific in representing object and idea The we grow in experiences and want to convey information with accuracy the we need that vocabularyBut specificity does not have to be incomprehensible For instance in explaining what leukemia was to someone who was just diagnosed with it I first had to teach about red blood cells white blood cells and platelets I taught these common terms so that we all understood what it would mean when the nurse says your red blood cells are low and you need a transfusion To explain I didn't have to use vocabulary like 'erythrocytes' 'leukeocytes' and 'thrombocytes;' simple descriptions such as white blood cells fight off infection and analogies like soldiers fighting against an enemy invader explain without being incomprehensible But the terms 'cells' 'transfusion' 'infection' 'red' and 'white' are non negotiable in learning the concepts related to blood You have to understand them to understand communication about body processesI tested Thing Explainer on something I know Cells Our body's cells are reduced to Bags of Water Inside the bags of water are other bags such as the 'bag filler' the 'bags of death water' 'bag shapers' 'little builders' and 'empty pockets'I found myself mentally trying to translate his terms into appropriate terminology nuclei mitochondria lysosomes and Golgi apparatus except I ended up irritated because endoplasmic reticulum and ribosomes sound alike with his description and I couldn't remember what Golgi bodies do How is this even helpful? How does this help anyone understand the cell? DNA? Cancer? Genetics? It doesn't I tested it on something I didn't know the automobile engine The Fire box computer watches how the fire box is working and decides how much fire water to add to the air it sends in Did this help? No As he used the same words to explain its as to describe it it's a useless explanation like describing a circle as a 'round shape'There were occasional exceptions The periodic table of elements was mildly amusing with descriptions like green burning air that kills air in bright signs made from colored light the rock that makes up beaches glass and computer brains and at the end stuff that lasts for the time it takes you to close and open your eyes However for it to be funny you have to know the table and elements off the top of your head So not so much for almost everyoneIt took me a lot of reflection to pinpoint the source of my rage while Munroe disingenuously suggests that he is explaining 'complicated concepts in simple words' he does so in such a way that the reader needs to understand the concept well to interpret his illustrations This approach simultaneously insults the person who doesn't understand using the illusion of 'common words' while creating an in joke for people knowledgeable about those conceptsThe other reason it made me angry is my impression that like many people Munroe is confusing 'complex' with 'incomprehensible' or 'pretentious' He gives it away in the forward Page Before the Book Starts when he says I was really just worried that if I used the small words someone might think I didn't know the big ones A truly gifted person would be able to communicate with clarity instead of relying on circuitous explanations and false construction of word limits he includes his personal emails in his source for the 1000 most common words Instead of actually communicating what he did is replacement code sophisticated concepts into simple words so to understand his comic one mentally replaces fire box with 'engine' Really the opposite of explaining things he would have done just as well to use symbols which is what he ends up doing for the evolutionary tree Except it is supposed to be funny when the reader knows the replacement codeI'm not laughing I loved the German translation so much that I had to buy the English edition too and of course it was better The book has such an excellent idea that I only really thought about that when I read it in German but in the original you can see what a poet Munroe is and poetry never really translates uite right Here are some of my favorite passagesSHAPE CHECKERThis machine checks whether you have a piece of metal with a certain shape If you do it lets go of whatever it's holding on to People put these machines on boxes doors and cars to try and control who can open or close themWhat's interesting about these machines isn't really the machine itself There are lots of different kinds that work in different ways but they're all the same in one way They try to put people into groupsBy checking whether someone has a piece of metal that's the right shape this machine is really a way to try to tell whether people are who they say they are It's an idea about which people should be allowed to do something brought to life in metalMACHINE FOR BURNING CITIESWhen the light metal or air is pushed together it also starts another run away fire here These run away fires help make each other stronger By adding and steps like this we found we could make the fires as big as we wanted and at first we built the machines larger and largerBut then we stopped making the machines larger and started making them smaller instead We didn't stop because we didn't want to burn larger cities We just realized you could burn a city easily with a few small machines than with one big one Soon we had enough small machines to burn as many cities as we wantedWe stopped making the machines larger because the ones we had were big enough to burn everything There was nothing larger to burnBIG TINY THING HITTERThis machine works by throwing pieces of air down a hallway so that they hit together really hard The air hits with so much power that the pieces break in strange new ways as if it shakes the air and space itself so hard that things fall outMost of these pieces only last for a moment while space is being shaken really hard and disappear as uickly as they appear But by watching what flies out from the place where the air was hit we can figure out what we shook outHELPERSA lot of people helped me with this book Their names aren't words that people use a lot but I'm going to write them anyway because they're importantPeople who know a lot of things and told me some of themPeople who helped a lotAnd most of all Strong Pretty Ring Wearer Rather perversely given that I keep telling people I don't like translations I read Randall Munroe's new book in German but I thought it might help develop my language skills to go through this unusual piece of work where the inventive Mr Munroe spends sixty one A4 pages explaining a lot of complicated things using a vocabulary of only the one thousand most common words My feeling is that it's done me some good despite the disapproving look I got from one of my germanophone colleagues You'll learn all the wrong vocabulary she sighed shaking her head But I've hopefully escaped intact my German is good enough by now that I'm not likely to believe Bildermacher really is the word for camera or Hochziehzimmer the word for elevator or Himmelsboot the word for airplane Anyway enough about that The content of the book is interesting than the languageMost people seem to be treating Thing Explainer as no than a weird bit of entertainment; but like Perec in La disparition I think the author isn't just doing it to demonstrate his ingenuity A couple of weeks ago I read an annoying novel called Topologie de l'amour which purports to give you an idea of what mathematicians are like The author has evidently met some mathematicians and he's by no means wrong about everything for example mathematicians tend to be very impractical in romantic matters What he missed though is that the interesting thing about them isn't their habit of falling in love with the wrong people but their way of looking at the world Munroe's book does a far better job of conveying what that unusual angle isClever people as Munroe says in the introduction typically like to demonstrate that they're clever by using big unusual words Mathematicians don't exactly refuse to use big words and they can also think it's fun to show off this way But in their hearts mathematicians don't want to do this Mathematics is all about reducing things to their essence and that means using as few words as possible If a mathematician could get by using only one word that would make them truly happy Formal logic is the most thoroughgoing expression of this impossible dream Thing Explainer doesn't go to such absurd lengths but Munroe shows that you don't need to know a lot of words to be clever; it's enough to understand what the words really mean and how they are connected to each other and to the world He gives wonderful concise explanations of things like plate tectonics and how a cyclone forms and the strategy the Mars Rovers used to come down successfully in one piece I learned here how a turbofan works for some reason I had never got around to finding out He has the best one sentence summary of uantum mechanics I have ever seen About a hundred years ago people learned that the idea of 'Where' doesn't always work for very small things When you describe things in this unusual way you can get a different idea of them and you can think that the big words you normally use are really stopping you from seeing the world instead of helping you see it better Munroe has a couple of deadpan helpfully informative pages on nuclear weapons Machines for burning cities When he gives you a schematic of a Trident submarine World ending boat and the history that led up to building this interesting device it's possible that you may briefly wonder whether it is in fact a good thingOn the last page Munroe shows you the Tree of Life the family tree of all the living things there have ever been who as he says are all related to each other Or to be exact he shows you a tiny part of this tree which really should contain a branch for every creature alive and the many many that used to be alive and are now dead He asks you to imagine all the grains of sand there are on all the beaches on Earth And then he asks you to imagine that each of those grains was another whole Earth with its own seas and beaches and how many grains of sand you would have if you added all those beaches together Well that's how many branches you would need to draw if you really drew the Tree of LifeAs he says in the book's last sentence next to the world we are talking about all our words are small

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