A New Primer on the Way Things Work

16:45 minutes

Illustrator David Macaulay has been explaining science in pictures for decades now, starting in 1988 with the beloved The Way Things Work. The book brought to life hundreds of machines, beginning with the simple lever and the wheel, and working all the way up to computers and beyond.

Drones (p. 118)

Macaulay is also known for other books—architectural tours like Pyramid, Castle, and Cathedral, and the illustrated human-body tour, The Way We Work. 

Now he’s got a new book of machines for 2016: The Way Things Work Now. He talks to Ira about how he illustrates fields that he knows nothing about, how to go about simplifying a smartphone for the printed page, and why his job is getting both harder and more meaningful as technology keeps shrinking.

Speech recognition (p. 363)Digital video (p. 206)

Illustrations from The Way Things Work Now by David Macaulay. © 2016 by David Macaulay. Used with permission Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Segment Guests

David Macaulay

David Macaulay is illustrator of The Way Things Work Now. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016). He’s based in Norwich, Vermont.

Meet the Producer

About Christie Taylor

Christie Taylor was a producer for Science Friday. Her days involved diligent research, too many phone calls for an introvert, and asking scientists if they have any audio of that narwhal heartbeat.

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