What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 2, 2014
Genres: Science,Non-fiction, Humor
Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD ‘a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language’ which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. ‘My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ‘ He liked these questions so much that he started up What If.
If your cells suddenly lost the power to divide, how long would you survive?
How dangerous is it, really, to be in a swimming pool in a thunderstorm?
If we hooked turbines to people exercising in gyms, how much power could we produce?
What if everyone only had one soulmate?
When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British empire?
How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?
What would happen if the moon went away?
In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, studded with memorable cartoons and infographics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion. Far more than a book for geeks, WHAT IF: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel much the smarter for having read.
What If? was great. Every question was answered through words, comics, and diagrams. The questions in the book truly were absurd, and the answers equally hilarious.
One of my favorite parts of the book were the “Weird (and Worrying) Questions” section. Every few pages there would be a page with two or three Weird/Worrying questions. Those questions were by far my favorite to read (even if some of them weren’t answered). I also love the comics in the book. Munroe does a great job illustrating the answers and bringing humor to his work.
The answers in the book are very easy to understand, even though some of them have very complicated ideas in them. Munroe does an excellent job of making everything understandable and enjoyable to read. There also is a great deal of humor in the writing, which makes the answers of these crazy questions even more fun to read.
Although some of the answers were amazing, there were some questions that just didn’t interest me, but I guess not every single Absurd Hypothetical Question can interest every single person out there. The book is most definitely worth reading, and it is something that I love showing to other people! Talk about a great conversation starter!
I am going to give this book four out of five hearts!