File Name: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.pdf
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From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask.
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.
29 Comments Comment
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208 of 219 people found the following review helpful.
I love the blog and was really looking forward to this ...
By Adam Wisecarver
I love the blog and was really looking forward to this book, but buying the kindle edition was a mistake. There are a lot of missing images, and many of them are also strangely enlarged or shrunk. I'll probably buy the hardcover edition later, anyone looking to buy this stay away from the kindle.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful.
A Great Thinking, Learning Book!
By Kindle Customer
Munroe has a great sense of subtle humor and irony and his stick-figure drawings are so simplistic and understated that they add fun to the text. While the textual answers to the posed questions are fairly in-depth and scientific in nature, they are understandable for the non-scientific reader. And there is so much interesting data and other factual information that one learns a lot while marching through the book. When I got to the end, I was disappointed that there were no more questions and answers. It was learning and fun at the same time. I found myself saying, "Oh Yeah, Hmmmm" and "Wow, I didn't know that!" or "Really?!" a fair amount of the time and I often quoted things I learned - choosing to read this book was a great decision!
351 of 382 people found the following review helpful.
A book that fascinates and inspires one's inner child. Also great for kids!
By Richard North Jr.
About half (51%, according to the book, which seems about right) of the questions answered in this book are original, and have never been posted on the xkcd what if? website (https://what-if.xkcd.com/).
Even though I'd already read the other 49%, I re-read them and was glad I did, as Munroe has added a few things here and there; plus, this stuff is just eminently re-readable. It's the perfect combination of irreverent, rigorous, technical, and fascinating. I look forward to every new "What If" (he posts them each Tuesday or Wednesday) and am always delighted to read the latest.
Even if you've read every "What if" ever posted to the website, this book is still for you - it's especially for you! This is a great way to enjoy older questions and answers over again, updated, and to share them with new people, and the new questions and answers - never featured on the website - are delightful; I won't spoil it for you, but my favorite has to be the answer to "If a bullet with the density of a neutron star were fired from a handgun (ignoring the how) at the Earth's surface, would the Earth be destroyed?"
If you have even a passing interest in science and ever enjoy daydreaming about the fantastic or the ridiculous, this book is for you. If you don't think that you enjoy those things, this book will prove to you that you do.
Also, this is a really great gift idea for basically anyone in your life who can read. Kids will love it, adults will love it (I'm ordering a copy for my dad's birthday), and they will be hooked from the first page (who hasn't wondered what would happen if the Earth suddenly stopped spinning?)
Gift season is coming up; thanks to this book my Christmas shopping will be a great deal easier. I don't usually write reviews, but I logged in and made an exception here. I cannot offer higher praise. Enjoy!
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