What do you think?
Rate this book
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
From the creator of the wildly popular xkcd.com, hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask.
Millions visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. Fans ask him a lot of strange questions: How fast can you hit a speed bump, driving, and live? When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British Empire? When will Facebook contain more profiles of dead people than living? How many humans would a T Rex rampaging through New York need to eat a day?
In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations and consults nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by comics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion.
321 pages, Kindle Edition
First published September 2, 2014
Randall Munroe, ex-NASA employee and author of the wildly popular webcomic XKCD, decides to look at several, undoubtedly, absurd questions and find scientific answers to them.
Trying to thoroughly answer a stupid question can take you to some pretty interesting places.
But I’ve never seen the Icarus story as a lesson about the limitations of humans. I see it as a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive.I absolutely loved the tone of voice throughout the book.
There’s no material safety data sheet for astatine. If there were, it would just be the word “NO” scrawled over and over in charred blood.His hilarious deadpan just absolutely cinched this book for me.
It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end.Who knew that physics could be so fun?
Dear Mr. Munroe, please consider this a standing invitation.When I was five, I was trying to figure out how difficult it would be to reach the Moon if I were to stack chairs on top of each other (for a head start, beginning this enterprise from the roof of a 9-story building). I was sure about a 1000 would do.
“DISCLAIMER: Do not try any of this at home. The author of this book is an Internet cartoonist, not a health or safety expert. He likes it when things catch fire or explode, which means he does not have your best interests in mind.”This book will provide you with detailed physics and mathematics solutions to a plethora of …ahem… interesting questions. I picked a few just to convey to you how deep the sheer awesomeness of ‘What If’ goes.
… he finally comes to the obvious conclusion that “we should drop the steak over Pittsburgh” (because of the tradition of “Pittsburgh rare” steaks there), and our elegant answer is:
“So drop your steak from a suborbital rocket, send out a collection team to recover it, brush it off, reheat it, cut away any badly charred sections, and dig in.
Just watch out for salmonella. And the Andromeda Strain.”
“Supposing you did drain the oceans, and dumped the water on top of the Curiosity rover, how would Mars change as the water accumulated?”
Again, the answer is clear — it’s a future that will be Netherlands-shaped:
Brief answer: “NEARLY EVERYONE WOULD DIE. Then things would get interesting.”
Answer: “Within weeks, Rhode Island is a graveyard of billions.”
“Therefore, if you drove a car over a Philadelphia speed bump at 90 percent of the speed of light, in addition to destroying the city ... you could expect a speeding ticket of $1.14 billion.”
“I’m going to—of course—ignore the prequels.”After a fair share of assumptions and equations, it’s blatantly obvious that Yoda is a much better power source than Luke Skywalker. But a word of caution before we change our power grid to Yoda-based:
���So Yoda sounds like our best bet as an energy source. But with world electricity consumption pushing 2 terawatts, it would take a hundred million Yodas to meet our demands. All things considered, switching to Yoda power probably isn’t worth the trouble—though it would definitely be green.”
What would happen if everyone on Earth stood as close to each other as they could and jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same instant?
If every human somehow simply disappeared from the face of the Earth, how long would it be before the last artificial light source would go out?
How long could a nuclear submarine last in orbit?
From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground?
If everyone on the planet stayed away from each other for a couple of weeks, wouldn't the common cold be wiped out?
Which US state is actually flown over the most?
Is there enough energy to move the entire current human population off-planet?
How high can a human throw something?
How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?
When, if ever, will the bandwidth of the Internet surpass that of FedEx?
How quickly would the oceans drain if a circular portal 10 meters in radius leading into space were created at the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the ocean? How would the Earth change as the water was being drained?
How many Lego bricks would it take to build a bridge capable of carrying traffic from London to New York? Have that many Lego bricks been manufactured?
What would happen to the Earth if the Sun suddenly switched off?
Q. What is the total nutritional value (calories, fat, vitamins, minerals, etc.) of the average human body? – Justin Risner(These are probably the worst in the book.) One of these that I wished he had answered was this one.
Q. What temperature would a chainsaw (or other cutting implement) need to be at to instantly cauterize any injuries inflicted with it? – Sylvia Gallaher