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The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science Hardcover – September 26, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Where, The Why, and The How is the authors' attempt to revel in those "mysteries that can't be entirely explained in a few mouse clicks." Volvovski and her coauthors selected 75 not quite answerable questions--from "Where did life come from?" to "Why do cats purr?" to "How does gravity work?"--and let artists and scientists loose on them. The artists created whimsical illustrations, and the scientists responded with thoughtful essays." - Smithsonian.com


"Far from the brassy computer renderings of cosmic events, for instance, in these pages you'll see star births described in pen and ink, antimatter realized in collage, and a hand-painted black hole." - Discover Magazine


A New York Times Bestseller in Science and Non-Fiction E-books! 


"The result is scientific, yet with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Why do we blush? includes a discussion of blood vessels and the sympathetic nervous system, along with a drawing of a naked man with his internal organs exposed (you'd blush too)." - Cassandra Willyard, WNYC's Studio 360

"75 contemporary artists such as Jacob Magraw, Jen Corace, and Patrick Kyle were commissioned to create the book's original artwork, leading to a huge variety of visual styles throughout. Some illustrations are, like the front cover pictured above, akin to those of a beautified textbook, but the most are simply works of art; literal, metaphorical, or satiric imagery to accompany the text." -The Verge

"A party for your left brain and your right brain." -- Boing Boing

"This highly browsable volume puts a new lens to the long-time relationship between art and science.... Each entry admirably articulates a complex topic in concise and engaging ways.... Volvovski, Rothman, and Lamothe offer a stunning collection that reimagines scientific wonder and that is an eloquent argument for slow living in an age of immediate access." -- Science

"The result is scientific, yet with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Why do we blush? includes a discussion of blood vessels and the sympathetic nervous system, along with a drawing of a naked man with his internal organs exposed (you'd blush too)."- - Studio 360 Blog

"The genius of the book is its brevity and wit, and the room it leaves for imagination." - TheAtlantic.com

"Promises to pick you up at the front cover, delight and fascinate you in a flurry of eye poppers, and drop you off better informed 168 pages later." -- Discovermagazine.com

"Like a science book published by The New Yorker. Images range from 1980s textbooks homages to dinosaur watercolors to Escherian mind-benders to straight-up trippy, surrealist work that would be at home on an album cover." -- FastCoDesign

"If you're looking for fun facts illustrated by some amusing imagery, it does the job well." - Steven Heller, The New York Times

"As a lover of the intersection of art and science, I find myself more excited about The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science than I've been about a book in ages. In this gem, as intellectually stimulating as it is visually stunning, creative trifecta Julia Rothman, Jenny Volvovski and Matt Lamothe invite some of today's most celebrated artists to create scientific illustrations and charts to accompany short essays about the most fascinating unanswered questions on the minds of contemporary scientists." -- Brain Pickings

About the Author

Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman, and Matt Lamothe are partners in ALSO, a design firm based in Chicago and New York that has won numerous awards. Julia is author of the popular blog Book By Its Cover.

David Macaulay is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books have been translated into dozens of languages.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; 1 edition (September 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452108226
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452108223
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wulfstan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Both. Here we have 75 of today's top scientists teamed up with some of the best artists- then turned loose on some of the most interesting or head scratching mysteries of science. The art is lovely, the science is accessible. Solid science articles back up the great art. Sometimes a tad whimsical or even humorous.

What came before the Big Bang?
What is Dark Matter?
What makes us blush?
Do Squirrels remember where they bury their nuts?
The Origin of the Moon.
Can our cells communicate?
Why do pigeons bob their heads when they walk?

I have but one complaint- the cover art chosen does not do justice to the great art in this book.

Very readable, beautifully illustrated.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A lot of fun, terrific illustrations. Nice hardbound book that I hope will be in our family for a long time. If you'd like to see some more examples of the illustrations (all of which are full-page, color), I recommend checking out the review at the blog "Book by it's Cover".
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Format: Hardcover
This is an engaging coffee table book if you take off your science editor hat. Look first at the art and then secondarily at the essays as the inspiration/explanation for the artwork. Some of the essays/art don't do well when they try to take on too deep or too controversial topics, but many are absolutely delightful. However, this is not a definitive work of science and should not be taken as such.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved the idea and was hoping for something much more creative and intelligent. As it turned out I was quite disappointed. It felt immature and more about the artists than what they were seeking to visually express. I suspect most were not well suited to this particular task and what it could be.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WARNING. Don't judge this book by its cover. Its NOT a compilation of the type of classic science illustrations you see on the front cover... Rather, every other page has a random illustrator's take on a 1-page write up of a scientific topic that takes up the adjacent page. I can't say if the illustrations are good or bad, that's too subjective, but I can say they are NOT technical illustrations, like you might expect just by looking at the front cover.

If you are looking for basic illustration of all different types, vaguely related to a science theme or topic, this book might be for you.

If you are looking for science and/or medical related illustration (cross-sections, information diagrams, technical and medical illustrations, etc.), this is NOT the book you are looking for.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love the illustrations so much. The articles are brief enough to allow a causal read for anyone dropping by for only a moment. I confess, I bought it with the intention of slicing out favorite images and framing them, but once I had the handsome volume in hand, I couldn't bear the thought. And generally, I have few qualms about cannibalizing books for their art.

Lovely, informative, and worth the purchase.
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If you love science and you love art, you will find this book as irresistible as we do. The authors invited seventy-five artists to make illustrations based on questions posed to fifty scientists. Each two-page spread features the scientist’s question and answer on one side and an artist’s interpretation on the other.

The questions are ones most of us all wonder about: What existed before the Big Bang? What is the origin of the moon? Why do we blush? How do migrating animal find their way back home? What did dinosaurs eat? How much of human behavior is predetermined? How do squirrels remember where they bury their nuts? Why do we hiccup? Why are humans and chimps so different if they have nearly identical DNA?

Even if there is no definitive answer (and sometimes there is not), you still get a pretty good explanation, and a summary of the state of the knowledge about the question at the present time. Most of the entries are succinct, clear, and understandable to the lay person, written by an array of contributors including physicists, aerospace engineers, biologists, research librarians, and quite a few professors.

The illustrations are outstanding. Sometimes you may not quite “get” them until you read the accompanying science piece, and then their cleverness impresses you all the more. The artists chosen by the compilers are from a mix of backgrounds, and include comic artists as well as fine artists. Most of the pictures are ones I wish I had on my walls.

At the end of the book, there are helpful indexes of not only of the questions explored, but of the names of contributing scientists and artists.

This book will provide endless stimulation, both intellectually and visually. The authors said their goal was to bringing back a sense of wonder in the age of Google and Wikipedia, and they have certainly succeeded.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you are a curious person, then you'll love the book! While you can use and view this on a e-paper Kindle (i.e., black and white), it really comes alive on color screens (Kindle app on your tablet, Kindle Reader on your PC, Kindle color tablets, etc.) It is beautifully illustrated with sound scientific explanations behind the illustrations, making it a wonderful read. I wish grade school science texts were written like this...there might be more scientists now.
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