What If?

What If?

Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Book - 2014
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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 an enormous, dedicated following, as do his deeply researched answers to his fans' strangest questions.The queries he receives range from merely odd to downright diabolical:* What if I took a swim in a spent-nuclear-fuel pool?* Could you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?* What if a Richter 15 earthquake hit New York City?* Are fire tornadoes possible?His responses are masterpieces of clarity and wit, gleefully and accurately explaining everything from the relativistic effects of a baseball pitched at near the speed of light to the many horrible ways you could die while building a periodic table out of all the actual elements.The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with the most popular answers from the xkcd website. What If? is an informative feast for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ©2014.
ISBN: 9780544272996
Characteristics: xii, 303 pages :,illustrations, maps ;,24 cm.


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HCL_staff_reviews Dec 18, 2019

What would happen if we drained the oceans? What if we all aimed a laser pointer at the m? Can you cry so much that you become dehydrated? These are just a few of the many "mad scientist" questions asked in this book. Scientifically accurate and hilarious, this book takes you on a trip through biology, ecology and physics by using preposterous questions with surprisingly insightful answers. This audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton, a perfect casting choice for the very conversational style. — Cassandra J., St. Anthony Library

FPL_Sunita Dec 03, 2019

This book is hilarious, witty, informative, and will appeal to readers that has a basic understanding of Science and Math.

Oct 17, 2019

I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it reading it.

Sep 25, 2019

The book covers many absurd topics from throwing a baseball at the speed of light, to removing all the water on earth, then dumping it all on mars. I had a great time reading this, and I highly recommend it. The author has a web-comic called xkcd, which I also recommend you check out.

Duckometer: 5 Ducks

Jul 13, 2019

Book “What If?” is a book that an author who has previously worked at NASA and is answering questions that are kids-friendly and questions that everyone could have thought of. For example, What if the planet earth stops revolving? What if everyone in the world jumps at once and land at the same time? There are tons of questions like this that interested me a lot. I like the way the author explains why this happens sometimes using equation and simulating what will happen and etc.

SkokieStaff_Steven Feb 28, 2018

Randall Munroe’s “What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions” reminds me of those recipes in which sneaky cooks insert healthful ingredients into comfort foods, such as cauliflower into mashed potatoes. In this book, Munroe inserts informative lessons in physics, mathematics, and scientific reasoning into startling scenarios that are as much fun to contemplate as they would be horrific to live through. While it’s hard to pick a favorite, I especially enjoyed his description of what would happen if all the rain in a rain storm were concentrated into a single drop. The short answer: you wouldn’t want to be standing under it. Just about all his hypothetical situations end in cataclysm, which is a great part of the fun. Fans of this book will want to check out “xkcd,” Munroe’s collection of cartoons from his website of the same name, which is just as brainy and amusing as “What if?” but definitely intended for an adult audience.

sit_walk Nov 16, 2017

You don't really need another opinion on this book, but here's one anyway: this book is witty, informative, and supremely readable. Just a blast! And you'll learn something too. :)

Nov 13, 2017

Lots of effort put into this book - just thinking of all the research that had to be done is tremendous in itself. It takes a special type of mind to answer all those questions and Randall Monroe did a great job in doing so!

Jul 29, 2017

This book had a lot of funny questions in it and the science that was used to explain the scenarios and there probabilities was amazing. Well written book and hard to put down.

Mar 28, 2017

This book is really interesting and a fun book to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious and likes to learn about the world around them. This book is not just for learning though, you can read just for the humor and the book is full of it.

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Age Suitability

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Feb 17, 2019

shihongyun thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 25

Dec 20, 2017

Ethan_4518 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 11 and 17

Dec 08, 2015

green_turtle_570 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over


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Nov 17, 2014

And the author's math checked out unlike Lee Child's Jack Reacher books:

We’ll imagine our storm measures 100 kilometers on each side and has a high TPW (total precipitable water) content of 6 centimeters. This means the water in our rainstorm would have a volume of:
100km x 100km x 6cm = 0.6km^3

That water would weigh 600 million tons (which happens to be about the current weight of our species).

Nov 17, 2014

As comedian Ron White said about hurricanes, “It’s not that the wind is blowing, it’s what the wind is blowing.”

Search YouTube for “gallium infiltration” to see how strange this is.

apricity - This is my single favorite word in the English language. It means the warmth of sunlight in winter.


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