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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions Paperback – Kindle eBook, 28 October 2015
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Smart answers to silly questions: Randall Munroe reveals all, GUARDIAN
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, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
The best bathroom book you'll ever buy...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 first chapter, "Q. What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity?" ends with the anthropomorphized moon worrying over the state of the Earth, and, with the gravity generated by its own rotation around the Earth, saving our dying planet. The physics are real; so is the emotional content. . . The answers are all illustrated with xkcd's trademark stick figures.. . . . and these are eminently approachable, NEWSWEEK
Brilliant, ROLLING STONE
What If? 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
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?] 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 humour. So, here's a "What If?" from me: If everyone on the planet simultaneously bought a copy of this book, stopped what they were doing and read it cover to cover, would modern civilization and our global economy collapse? It's worth trying the experiment., HUFFINGTON POST
For the record, I'm loving XKCD's What If -- 'Dear Abby for mad scientists', NEIL GAIMAN
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
Science's most intriguing questions answered by the web's favourite writer, the genius behind xkcd.com.
Munroe's hilarious and compelling answers explain everything from the odds of meeting your one true soulmate to how many humans a rampaging T-Rex would need to eat a day.
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- Item Weight : 220 g
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1848549563
- ISBN-13 : 978-1848549562
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
- Publisher : John Murray; 1st edition (28 October 2015)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"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: Dangerous ideas ahead, folks! Don't get too close -- these things could kill ya!
Randall Munroe used to work at NASA, and now he creates the webcomic XKCD (which sounds less stressful than the NASA gig). On his website, he takes "absurd hypothetical questions" from readers and tries to answer some of them. Here are some of my favorite questions in this book:
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?
If you are interested to know any of the answers to those questions, this book is for you! What made this so much fun, aside from the ridiculous questions, is Munroe's sense of humor. Several times I laughed out loud at his drawings and his answers, which is not something that usually happens when I'm reading about science. Oh, and be sure to read his footnotes, which have even more jokes.
I think this book would be a great gift for kids who love to ask crazy questions about how the world works. I think I would have loved it when I was 10.
It is an absolutely great book to gift to teenagers and kids (older than 9 yrs).
This is a great casual read with entertaining trivia. You might even enjoy thinking how Munroe derived certain maths in answers
I'll probably gift this book to like minded friends on birthdays. Afterall, I'm sure they won't buy this for themselves, but if they have it they'll definitely have a chuckle while reading it
We only have conversations with friends about this kind of material and often times are not accurate in our discussions, but now you can impress your friends by using Science to argue and answer amazing questions like my personal favorite- can guns be used as a rocket.
A hilarious and inspiring read!
Randall manages to explain a myriad of topics in simple cartoons and language and most of the times they are hilarious.
Top reviews from other countries
Its a total dip-in book. The short chapters (3-6 pages) are pretty much random, and cover all areas of science. I've learnt stuf about genetics that I never realised, as well as radioactivity, the periodical table and much more besides, as well as chuckling away and giggling and geneally annoying people right through Christmas Day.
Age range? I'd say mid-secondary school (13ish) up to any age as I think you need a moderate grounding in science to get the jokes at times, but I can see it would be a great way for an upper secondary school pupil to really annoy their science teacher. - as well as for science teachers to really engage their pupils.
He has always had an interest in the sciences and studied maths at degree level, so I was a little nervous that this book might be childish or too simplistic. However, this has not been the case at all. It has covered enough complex bits to keep him interested and uses plenty of brilliant witty humour to make it a highly entertaining read. I think I'll be reading it next!
I love the way he applies science, with an open mind, to the many questions he’s been asked, some of them so odd they’ll make your hair curl. One or two of the questions posed are commonly asked of scientists, and others, but Randall Munroe puts an intriguing spin on his answers to these.
I’ll list just a small sample of the questions posed: ‘What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity’, ‘What would happen if you made a periodic table out of cube-shaped bricks, where each brick was made of the corresponding element?’, ‘Let’s assume there’s life on the nearest habitable exoplanet and that they have technology comparable to ours. If they looked at our star right now, what would they see?’, and ‘How many unique English tweets are possible? How long would it take for the population of the world to read them out loud?’
Eclectic: possibly the best description of the content. Amusing, well thought out, undoubtedly contentious in certain circles, informative and entertaining. The author raises other questions in answering those he is set by correspondents, considering the issues as if the questions were serious (most of the time; he does add brief sarcastic comments for some of the more peculiar questions, especially those that might lead the reader to suspect some twisted motivation on behalf of the questioner!)
This is one of those delightful books readers can dip into in odd spare moments and glean some fascinating information along with the mind-bending possibilities discussed.
Thoroughly enjoyable, educational and funny.
I really recommend this as a book for anybody that likes to think and ponder. I wish there was more.