Current Issue
This Month's Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

75 Mysteries Of Science, Gorgeously Illustrated

Science books are notorious for bad art. But every page of The Where, the Why, and the How, each illustrated by a different artist, could live in a frame.

  • <p>How do cells talk to each other?  <br />
- Chris Kyung</p>
  • <p>Why do we blush? <br />
- Gilbert Ford</p>
  • <p>Are earthquakes predictable?<br />
- Isaac Tobin</p>
  • <p>How do humans have the ability to learn language?<br />
- Jeremyville</p>
  • <p>What drives plate tectonics? <br />
- Marc Bell</p>
  • <p>How flexible is the human brain?<br />
- Matt Leines</p>
  • <p>Why are humans and chimps so different if they have nearly identical DNA?<br />
- Matt Forsythe</p>
  • <p>Why do humans have so much genome "junk"?<br />
- Matt Lamothe</p>
  • <p>What caused the extinction of Neanderthals? <br />
- Mikkel Sommer</p>
  • 01 /09

    How do cells talk to each other?
    - Chris Kyung

  • 02 /09

    Why do we blush?
    - Gilbert Ford

  • 03 /09

    Are earthquakes predictable?
    - Isaac Tobin

  • 04 /09

    How do humans have the ability to learn language?
    - Jeremyville

  • 05 /09

    What drives plate tectonics?
    - Marc Bell

  • 06 /09

    How flexible is the human brain?
    - Matt Leines

  • 07 /09

    Why are humans and chimps so different if they have nearly identical DNA?
    - Matt Forsythe

  • 08 /09

    Why do humans have so much genome "junk"?
    - Matt Lamothe

  • 09 /09

    What caused the extinction of Neanderthals?
    - Mikkel Sommer

I think we all have a certain nostalgia for our old science textbooks, even if most were pretty hideous on the inside. I swear that from grades 2 to 12, I had a biology book where every illustration was colored with some variation of coral, so this dull, pink fleshiness is how I imagine everything from ribosomes to ganglia.

The Where, the Why, and the How is a new hardcover published by Chronicle Books that answers some of science’s most fun questions—like "Why do we blush?" or "What existed before the Big Bang?" The best parts, however, may be the contributions from 75 artists—free-form illustrations that riff on the scientific essays with as much literality or imagination as the artist chose.

The result of this collaboration is like a science book published by The New Yorker. Images range from 1980s textbooks homages (coral!) to dinosaur watercolors to Escherian mind-benders to straight-up trippy, surrealist work that would be at home on an album cover.

Why do we blush? - Gilbert Ford

And, not to spoil anything, but to answer a few questions: We blush because it’s a "form of nonverbal communication that signals both a recognition of and an apology for the breach of a social norm." And we really have no clue what was around before the Big Bang, but my money’s on pizza planets with moons made of ranch dipping sauce. Sorry, the universe is nowhere near as awesome as it once was.

Buy it here.