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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to…

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (original 2014; edition 2014)

by Randall Munroe (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,3771322,507 (4.2)1 / 70
"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. "--… (more)
Title:What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Authors:Randall Munroe (Author)
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014), Edition: First Edition, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (2014)

  1. 10
    13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Baffling Scientific Mysteries of Our Time by Michael Brooks (Othemts)
  2. 01
    Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Rigorous scientific descriptions of ridiculous things
  3. 01
    Au fond du labo à gauche: De la vraie science pour rire by Edouard Launet (dClauzel)
    dClauzel: Discussions amusantes sur la science. Des questions hypothétiques, des expérimentations qui n’auraient jamais eu lieu d’être, et surtout l’envie de partager.

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English (129)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  All languages (132)
Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
This is a fun book to read and you can even learn something while reading it--if you can remember all the details of the answers. I could not comprehend many of the explanations because I'm not a mathematician, but the humor was understandable throughout. Some of the questions were just dumb, but Munroe answered them anyway (or tried to). ( )
  terran | Nov 3, 2019 |
I absolutely loved this book!! It was right up my alley with the perfect blend of science and humor. People definitely ask some weird (and sometimes worrying) questions. Such as:

• Can you make a jetpack from machine guns?
• What would happen if the earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning but the atmosphere retained its velocity?
• If everyone who took the SAT guessed on all the questions, would anyone get a perfect score?
• What US state is actually flown over the most?
• From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground?

I listened to the audio book narrated by Wil Wheaton. Wheaton gives an excellent performance and nails the humorous tone of Munroe's writing.

I enjoyed this book so much I am planning to pick up a physical copy and have recommended it to many friends. ( )
  Narilka | Oct 19, 2019 |
There are people out there with too much time on their hands. ( )
  AnnaHernandez | Oct 17, 2019 |
Using questions and answers from his popular webcomic xkcd, former NASA roboticist Randall Munroe takes some of the outlandish questions he's received, including several that hadn't been answered on the website, and answers them with science & math, aplomb and some fairly humorous references to pop (or nerd) culture.

The answers are entertaining, often including stick figure cartoon drawings illustrating what he's talking about. The questions themselves are entertaining, anything from "How fast do you have to drop steak to cook it?" to "Could you make a Lego bridge from New York to London?" (And in that one he definitely has fun with the spelling of LEGO). Some of it was way over my head, but I could enjoy the premise if not entirely follow his reasoning and equations. His answers sometimes tend to the ridiculous, but, well, that's kind of what you sign up for with the entire book! If you listen to the audio, Wil Wheaton gives an excellent performance but you do miss a little something of the visuals, so I found myself going back and forth between formats a lot. ( )
  bell7 | Oct 4, 2019 |
The book version of one of my favourite blogs, xkcd's "What if?"-Blog. A lot of questions were already known from the blog, but were entertaining to re-read. The new questions were interesting and entertaining as well.

I read the german version of the book (because I got it as a gift, otherwise I would've purchased the original version), and the translation is okay, but does not manage to re-create the trademark dry humor of the original version. I'd recommend the english version. ( )
  malexmave | Oct 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Munroe, Randallprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barry, PatrickCover designersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gleason, ChristinaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kankaanpää, JaakkoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Setterborg, GabrielTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svenn, GöstaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svenn, Helena SjöstrandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
First words
I was born in the United States, which means that as a child, I learned to think in feet, pounds, (US) gallons, and degrees Fahrenheit.

Preface to the UK edition : a note on units in the United Kingdom.
This book is a collection of answers to hypothetical questions.

Q. What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity?

A. Nearly everyone would die. Then things would get interesting.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Haiku summary
Science is a tool
That can be used to answer
folks' freaky questions.

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