Randall Munroe was a physicist tha built robots for NASA before quitting to draw comics and post them on the internet under the title xkcd.
Munroe’s comics can be small:
huge (download for detail):
just plain funny:
or just plain sad:
And now he’s made a book, explaining all manner of highly technical things in the plainest of English: the International Space Station is a ‘shared space house’; washing machines are ‘boxes that make clothes smell better’. Sometimes this is taken to an illogical extreme: a helicopter is a ‘sky boat with turning wings’; a lock is a ‘shape checker'. But a tree is still a ‘tree’.
Munroe’s explanation of things is funny but dispassionate. It’s like having the world explained to you by an alien with a PhD and a sly sense of humour.
Here he is on the Mars Rover Explorer:
and a smartphone:
You get the idea.
Anyway, doesn't think sound (and look) like a great Xmas present? We're thinking anyone from a precocious nine year old to someone Bill Gate's age and above will love it.
And hey, if they don't, send it to us and we'll find a good home for it.