kottke.org posts about Randall Munroe
Randall Munroe of xkcd is coming out with a new book called Thing Explainer.
Inspired by his popular comic, "Up Goer Five," THING EXPLAINER is a series of brilliantly -- and simply -- annotated blueprints that explain everything from ballpoint pens to the solar system using line drawings and only the thousand most common English words.
So awesome. I love everything about this. Here's a look at part of one of the blueprints, the Curiosity rover, aka Space Car for the Red World:
From XKCD, an illustration of the solar system's solid surfaces stitched together. Best viewed large (if only to find the "all human skin" label). Randall Munroe is just the best, isn't he?
Fantastic...Randall Munroe is turning his What If? web series into a book. Munroe explains:
As I've sifted through the letters submitted to What If every week, I've occasionally set aside particularly neat questions that I wanted to spend a little more time on. This book features my answers to those questions, along with revised and updated versions of some of my favorite articles from the site. (I'm also including my personal list of the weirdest questions people have submitted.)
Update: What If? the book is now out. Phil Plait has a rave review.
Look, I answer questions for a living, too, and Randall is really, really good at this. He finds weird little scientific ways to answer the questions, but it's his extrapolations that kill me. I laughed a lot reading this book. Even better: I learned stuff reading this book. And you will too.
Related to my post on the frequency of humanity is this post on XKCD on the various frequencies of events, from human births to dog bites to stolen bicycles.
For his latest What If? column, Randall Munroe tackles the question "When, if ever, will Facebook contain more profiles of dead people than of living ones?"
Based on the site's growth rate, and the age breakdown of their users over time, there are probably 10 to 20 million people who created Facebook profiles who have since died.
That's an incredible number; most tech startups would kill (well, not really but maybe...) for that many alive users.
Randall Munroe of XKCD drew the Saturn V rocket (aka Up Goer Five) annotated using only the 1000 most common English words.
See also Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity In Words of Four Letters or Less.
Hey, if Randall keeps writing them, I'm gonna keep posting links to them...today's XKCD What If is "If every person on Earth aimed a laser pointer at the Moon at the same time, would it change color?"
Unfortunately, the laser energy flow would turn the atmosphere to plasma, instantly igniting the Earth's surface and killing us all.
Today's XKCD must have taken Randall several years to draw...if you click and drag, it goes on forever. Or not quite forever, but Dan Catt did some figuring and:
Ok, so the XKCD map printed at 300dpi is around 46 foot / 14 meters wide, half that at magazine 600dpi quality.
Here's a better Google Maps-like way to explore the entire world.
With the assistance of a nuclear reactor operator, Randall Munroe came up with this handy radiation dose infographic. Doses recorded near the Fukushima plant compare to those from a single mammogram or dental x-ray. A note on how to use this chart:
If you're basing radiation safety procedures on an internet PNG image and things go wrong, you have no one to blame but yourself.
A wonderful character interaction map of the Lord of the Rings trilogy drawn by Randall Munroe. Here's just a little part of it: