What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall MunroeWhat If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

byRandall Munroe

Hardcover | August 19, 2014

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Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last? 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, complemented by signature xkcd comics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion. The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with updated and expanded versions of the most popular answers from the xkcd website. What If? will be required reading for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical.
RANDALL MUNROE, a former NASA roboticist, is the creator of the webcomic xkcd and the author of xkcd: volume 0 . The International Astronomical Union recently named an asteroid after him; asteroid 4942 Munroe is big enough to cause a mass extinction if it ever hits a planet like earth.
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Title:What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical QuestionsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 7 × 1.17 inPublished:August 19, 2014Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0544272994

ISBN - 13:9780544272996

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This book uses some of the most interesting analogies to explain things and I was surprised how much sense they made. Definitely learned a lot from this. It makes a great gift
Date published: 2017-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My 5 years old self screamed when I see this book This book is the answer of random question that run trough my head everyday. Informative and fun!
Date published: 2017-06-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hilarious and Somewhat Informative If you're a fan of xkcd comics, you'll love this book for obvious reasons. It appears to be researched relatively well; I cannot vouch for any of the physics research though. The sections on biology and genetics are accurate but somewhat simplified; I assume this is similar for physics and the other sciences involved. The book goes about answering several hypothetical questions with scientific rigor. It's well written and quite funny but it can be a bit too simple sometimes. There are also some questions and answers I found to be a bit boring and lull inducing. Overall, it's an easy and entertaining read and if you enjoy xkcd comics, you'll definitely enjoy this.
Date published: 2017-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun and a Good Gift This book is fun to pick up at any time and open to a random page. It's informative and amusing.
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great gift Perfect gift for someone who's interested in math, physics and sciences. Super fun!
Date published: 2017-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Super Fun and Interesting If your kind of a nerd, this is a great read. It so funny the way he presents information and comic, definite read.
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Relaxing Read Hilarious, funny, imaginative. Don't expect a physics textbook level explanation, but it certainly lets the imagination go wild. relaxing read before going to bed.
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too Simplistic It was beautifully presented and I think the idea is great but found the execution of the simple language to be more annoying than anything. I prefer books that expand my vocabulary and not make me want to hit my head from frustration. I'd recommend this book to anyone 12 and under.
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Simple I found the simple language more annoying than anything else. It made it needlessly confusing.
Date published: 2017-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What If I freaking love this book. It's hilarious and fun to read. The illustrations make the fun answers even better. Love it!
Date published: 2017-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Really makes you think. If you like to read something out of the box ideas and topics this is a great book!
Date published: 2016-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What If Hilarious! I love the seriousness of the goofy answers. So good.
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun Read! Insightful...Hilarious...overall fun read! Pick up this book now or give it as a gift!
Date published: 2016-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book A very interesting book for people who ask "what if". Filled with lots of facts, and lots of laughs.
Date published: 2016-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Thought provoking questions with great answers. Filled with humor and a very entertaining.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Entertaining I bought it because I liked the concept, and I wasn't disappointed.
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Concept Bought it as a gift for a university science student. The scenarios are very thought-provoking and he explains everything in a way anyone can understand. First saw him in a YouTube video and had to get the book.
Date published: 2016-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from easy to read This is a great book, you can pick it up for a bit and learn some science set in amusing terms. Good for 8-98 years of age!
Date published: 2014-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Funny, Informative, and Completely Worth It I'm not good with physics or math, but I absolutely loved this book, just as much as I love the xkcd webcomic. The writing was accessible and the information informative, and with humour mixed in it makes for the perfect read for anybody who loves science. Give this book a try: you won't regret it.
Date published: 2014-10-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Mix of Science and Humour First of all, I was not familiar with the author?s webcomic xkcd. Consequently, I did not know what to expect. The book?s format is as follows: as indicated in the subtitle, a rather ?absurd hypothetical question? is posed and the author attempts a ?serious scientific answer?. Included are many cartoon drawings and a healthy dose of humour. I found the scientific explanations quite entertaining and lighthearted. A few very simple formulas are included in some sections, but these seem to be mainly for illustration purposes because some of the formulas are inconsistent in the units that are used, e.g., see page 85. Consequently a neophyte wanting to learn how to calculate should perhaps look elsewhere. Personally, as a hard core science/math enthusiast, I would have preferred more formulas and mathematical details; however, I think that the author?s main purpose was to use hand-waving physical arguments rather than mathematical rigour, in view of the types of questions involved. Despite the book?s dimensions, i.e., relatively oversized with almost 300 pages of main text, it turned out for me to be a rather quick read. The reasons for this are several-fold; in particular, there are a great many cartoon drawings occupying much space, the posed questions are in very large font and the writing style is particularly friendly, accessible, lively and engaging, making the book hard to put down. Although any interested reader could certainly enjoy this book, science enthusiasts may find it the most engrossing due to the types of questions that the author attempts to answer.
Date published: 2014-10-01

Editorial Reviews

What If? maintains a delightfully free-wheeling tone throughout, especially when complicated calculations lead to whimsical results? Despite all the hard facts and gigantic numbers, it never feels like a textbook-and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy it. A" -Entertainment Weekly"Catchy and approachable? There's plenty of scientific rigor behind his elaborate explanations but he punctuates them with sly humor and winningly primitive cartoon diagrams? A cut above so many popular science and technology books." - NPR.org "Consistently fascinating and entertaining? Munroe leavens the hard science with whimsical touches? An illuminating handbook of methods of reasoning." - Wall Street Journal"It's fun to watch as Munroe tackles each question and examines every possible complication with nerdy and methodical aplomb, his distinctive scribblings providing clever running commentary of peanut-gallery jokes as his train of thought (sometimes) happily derails. The delightfully demented 'What If?' is the most fun you can have with math and science, short of becoming your own evil genius? We feel the tug of Munroe's playful yet existentially-tinged worldview, and all that geek logic and number-crunching becomes unexpectedly poignant." - Boston Globe "Munroe has hit on a wonderful form of science and engineering communication that can do so much-extolling the value of analytical thinking, examining data, and doing back-of-the-envelope calculations-while entertaining readers at the same time? an incredibly fun book with quirky, hand-drawn pictures." -American Scientist"[What If?] has solved my annual birthday-present and holiday-gift dilemmas for a large group of people? What makes Munroe's work so fantastic is a combination of two elements: his commitment to trying to answer even the weirdest question with solid science, and his undeniable sense of humor." -Huffington Post"Munroe takes inane, useless and often quite pointless questions asked by real humans (mostly sent to him through his website), and turns them into beautiful expositions on the impossible that illuminate the furthest reaches, almost to the limits, of the modern sciences..The answers are all illustrated with XKCD's trademark stick figures? and these are eminently approachable." -Newsweek"What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions includes old favorites, new inquiries and the mix of expert research and accessible wit that has made Munroe a favorite among both geeks and laymen."-TIME"Loaded with the same dry wit and blank-faced stick figures that populate xkcd, What If? is that rare book that will have you laughing as you learn just how a mass extinction might unfold." - Discover "Wide-ranging and strangely poignant? This book is tons of fun? Munroe's spiffy essays do tend to resemble the sort of lectures that cool professors give on the first day of class? It's quality entertainment." - Washington Independent Review of Books"Munroe's brilliant What-If? column-which features scientifically rigorous, utterly absurd answers to ridiculous hypotheticals-has been on the bestseller lists since it was announced in March. Today, it hits shelves and: It. Is. A. Triumph." -BoingBoing"What If? is a fast, engrossing read? The charm of What If? lies in the ease Munroe has jumping past intensely interesting conclusions and onto his next thought, tangent, or consequence. It's as if Munroe is a unseen stage technician pulling back the curtain - the answers were always there, we just needed someone who knew how to show us. Even he seems surprised at what he finds." - Nerdist "Those who enjoyed the irreverent style of Allie Brosh's best-selling memoir, Hyperbole and a Half, will enjoy Munroe's serious and silly musings on everything from science to romance." - Library Journal "