What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
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...more
So much of a fan that when I heard about this book, I went so far as to abuse my power as an author to get an Advance Reading Copy of the book, so that I could enjoy its deliciousness sooner. And... y'know... taunt people on the internet.
And it worked. I got an early copy. And I treasured it. I petted it. It was precious to me. Precious.
Then life got in the way. Conventions. Promotion for my own book launch. ...more
A: Actually, less than you'd think.
First, a little background about this book. If you're a geek, it's unputdownable, a word that, if you think carefully, means "cannot be put down". (You may not be aware of this fact, since the word is nearly always misused). So the geek who receives it is going to carry on reading through breakfast, through lunch, while he's supposed to be working, and on through dinner, ...more
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.
Nothing is too absurd for him - whether it be the logistics of finding your soulmate to what happens if our moon suddenly disappears - Munroe answers it all.
But I’ve never seen the Icarus story as a lesson about the limitatio...more
Randall Munroe of xkcd.com fame (a former physicist and NASA robotics employee turned brilliant comics artist) can come to my house for tea and in-depth discussion of hypothetical scenarios based on the world’s dumbest questions (while showing me his back-of-the-napkin math which I will blindly believe as it will just whoosh over my head like a jet plane) any time.
Dear Mr. Munroe...more
If you saved a whole life’s worth of kissing and used all that suction power on one single kiss, how much suction force would that single kiss have?
I guess the answer might be “what pharmaceutical products have you ingested during the last four hours?” or “May I speak to your parents?”
Another person named Jon Merrill asked
How fast would a human have t ...more
"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. The publisher and the author disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects resulting, directly or indirectly, from information contained in this book."
That disclaimer really sets the tone for this fun book about science: ...more
One of the things that's nice about goodreads is that it lets you embed pictures. ...And one of the nice things about xkcd is that it has lots of pictures licensed under CC Attribution/Non-Commerical - meaning I can post as many as I want to this review.
I'm pretty sure that if you're here, you already know about xkcd. But hey, why the heck not? Right? XKCD is why this Randall Munroe character is famous.
The book comes from his "what if" blog, which is also very good.
I took the book into work with ...more
Change.Org Petition: Despicable Munroe
The International Astronomical Union recently named an asteroid after Randall Munroe; asteroid 4942 Munroe is big enough to cause a mass extinction if it ever hits Earth.
Not that he needs an asteroid to do that. He has his minions devising millions of ways to do it, on a subversive site they call xkcd.com. This book is a set of leaked manuals.
It should be clear to all how dangerous this guy (and his site) really is. But all Government agencies fail to heed ...more
"Why didn't this fall up instead of down?" Asked the scientist...
...And lo, the theory of gravitation was born.
- Well, not really. The story is apocryphal in all probability, like George Washington and the cherry tree. But it does illustrate an important fact.
Scientific enquiry starts with seemingly absurd questions.
Randall Munroe is a physics graduate who briefly worked for NASA: but his claim to fame is as the creator of the we ...more
My favourite part was the Weird (and Worrying) Questions From the What If? Inbox.
Sometimes I even felt like it had to be me who posted those questions - I believed no one had as crazy ideas/question as I do... It turns out I got a lot of soulmates out there. :D ...more
Well, this amounts to the question of, what per cent of reviewers would simply stop typing when the time ran out, instead of finishing up what they were saying and ignoring the stupid rule.
But there could be a correlation (or inverse correlation?) between how reviewers reacted to such a rule, and the day job they had – or the “purity” of the fie ...more
You don't? What the hell are you doing here listening to me blab on? xkcd.com
For all those people still here, and who obviously know Randall's work, let's just bask in the mixture of intelligence, cleverness, hilarity and properly labelled axes. All the nerd girls want to sleep with him and all nerd boys want to
So it seems like he has been running a column on his website w ...more
The questions being presented is stuff that would have never crossed my mind, but the instant I read them I was like -oh wow-what the funk if that really happened?
I loved the illustrations throughout- and how the scientific in ...more
What if is a non-fiction book that -as the name implies- gives answer to some absurd hypothetical questions. The book was fun to read until at some points it wasn’t. The author is apparently a genius, I don’t know how can he think in that way. And the dedication and time that he puts to answer these questions is amazing.
I imagine the author as that student who used to sit at the front seat and answer all the questions ...more
It started with a Kindle! Well, kind of. A long time ago, I bought a Kindle Fire. If you have bought a kindle Fire, then you know that Amazon fills the box with little 'tutorials'. *cough* ads in a pretty package*cough* Anyway, What If was on the pamphlet of books to read. It looked at it and thought interesting. I later read a book called 'Know it all', a book that asked and answered scientific q ...more
A lot of the questions reminded me of the ones Neil Gaiman fielded after Geoff Coffey's tweet that he would donate $1 to @EFF for every person who asks @neilhimself how they can watch American Gods in their country. ...more
A. Nearly Everyone Would Die!
- Randall Munroe, What If?
There are certain things on this planet that you seemed to do fine without, but as soon as you discover, you can't now do without. Diet Dr. Pepper, David Foster Wallace, dark chocolate covered cherries all fit into this category. So, too, does Randall Munroe. He seems to occupy a space near, but not on, that vacated by Gary Larson when the great Gary Larson stopped drawing the Far Side (January 1, 1995). If you are unimpres ...more
So... I love xkcd & some of these questions were really interesting - funny on the face with some really interesting science & math backing up the answer. For instance, the bullet being hit by lightning got into quite a few interesting facts about lightning. Who wouldn't want to know if a machine gun jet pack would work including discussions on caliber, barrel burn out, & fire rates? ...more
That warning has probably never been more applicable, as attempting to reenact many of the scenarios from this book will result in our atmosphere turning into plasma and leading to the instant ignition of the Earth's surface.
Yeah. Just what I need...one more thing to worry about.
Seriously. Please do not try making an actual Periodic Wall of Elements. A lot of those elements don't play well with others.
This book is massively entertaining and highly recomme ...more
...book recommendations. I sure know how to live it up.
OK, OK... Part of that is untrue - I didn't dump my boyfriend for not knowing what XKCD is. He's put up with some crazy kinds of shit from me, I GUESS I can accept this from him. *sigh* I couldn't resist reading part of this out loud to him, though. But to my dismay, I don't think that he fully appreciated the genius of it, but well... some people are co ...more
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe is a fun book! Crazy questions are answered but answered scientifically! He also puts in a section called Weird and Worrisome Questions which have some really strange questions and then shows a cartoon of him as if he was first reading it! Hilarious! Lots of his cartoons are sprinkled throughout the book! This book is funny but informative too. I had ...more
It bored me to death! Most (if not all) of the questions are simply useless. I mean why would I even give a fuck "what would happen if you were to gather a mole of moles in one place", or "how many unique English tweets are possible and how long it would take for the population of the world to read them out loud" (what the fuck???), or "if you call a r ...more
I grinned all the way through this, except when I guffawed.
If you know the webcomic xkcd, this needs no introduction; if you don't, 1) go find it at once (here, let me help you: http://www.xkcd.com/ ) and 2) (handwaves wildly) I don't know how to explain it. It's the only webcomic I have bookmarked. No, I don't get all the math and computer jokes either, but they do sometimes give me a glimpse into a wider world.
Ta, L. ...more
If we assume that the title will, like its predecessors, cons ...more
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