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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Minute Physics: How to Go to Space

By Phil Plait

I’m not going to lie to you: I have smart friends, and they are also crazy talented. They inspire me, and it’s no surprise that they inspire each other, too.

To wit: My friend Henry Reich, who creates Minute Physics, was inspired by another friend, Randall Munroe, who creates Xkcd.

Now follow this: Randall has a book coming out in the next couple of weeks called Thing Explainer (preorder it!), where he covers basic science concepts using only the 1,000 most common words in the English language. This was an offshoot of his ridiculously popular Up Goer 5 cartoon on Xkcd.

Henry liked it so much he made a video for Minute Physics called How to Go to Space in the same manner. Watch:

Ha! I love it.

And I’m really excited to see Randall’s book, too, especially since <preen>I helped him a little bit with the space section</preen> (Update, Nov. 11, 2015: Bill Gates likes the book, too!). There’s something oddly engaging and dreamlike about the writing; I think there’s a lulling cadence when you’re forced to use only the “ten hundred words people use the most often.” I wouldn’t say it’s poetic, but more proto-poetic; the qualities of poetry are there, but not quite fully formed. It’s a wonderful patois.

And speaking of friends doing things with friends, Henry also partnered with Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, to rewrite “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” making it astronomically correct. It’s great! Henry even sings it.

Free advice for you: Surround yourself with smart, creative, funny people. They make the world better.

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