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.
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.