What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

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.

Title:What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
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  • This is one of the most entertaining books I have ever read. And I have read over 10 books....

  • I've been a reader of XKCD for ages. Not just a reader, a fan. A big goey, geeky fan. 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 Adva...

  • Q: What would happen if every geek in the world received a copy of What If tomorrow morning?A: Actually, less than you'd think.First, a little background about this book. If you're a geek, it's unputd...

  • AMAZING BOOK! I love love love it and frankly, there's no better book to read on the toilet. Off the toilet too, but I learned so much and the writing is so engaging and entertaining and just MARVELOU...

  • My evil plan of reading this book in small doses aloud to my students during math class has worked. Several of them have bought their own copies, and they are, I believe, planning to use their math sk...

  • This book opens with the best disclaimer I have ever seen:"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 cat...

  • I highly recommend taking the audiobook route for this one unless you absolutely love very technical science. Wil Wheaton's narration was excellent and he delivered Munroe's humor perfectly! I loved t...

  • An apple fell on Newton's head."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 probab...

  • 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 ...

  • Change.Org Petition: Despicable MunroeThe International Astronomical Union recently named an asteroid after Randall Munroe; asteroid 4942 Munroe is big enough to cause a mass extinction if it ever hit...

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