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Using Cartoons to Help Explain Physics

Generations of college students have learned from textbooks that are often large, text-heavy, expensive paperweights that can make your eyes glaze over.

But cartoonist Tim Decker and MSOE mechanical engineering professor Vince Prantil have created a unique physics book that engages students through visual learning.

The Captains of Energy: Systems Dynamics from an Energy Perspective features Decker's characters Captain Potential Energy, Captain Kinetic Energy and the Evil Dr. Friction. These characters accompany physics concepts to draw a reader into something that's complicated in a way that just text and graphics can't.

"Science is nothing without art. And I really preach that because you have to have a visual to a theory for anybody else to understand it," says Decker.

Tim Decker and Vince Prantil explain how they harnessed the universality of math and art to create a book that takes some of the fear out of physics: