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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

People have sent Randall Munroe amazingly creative questions, like “Could you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?” and he endeavors to answer them with the enthusiastic tenacity of STEM graduate students trying to please their dissertation boards. Fans of Munroe’s wildly popular comic xkcd don’t need any convincing. For the rest of you, think of What If? as the natural extension of shows like MythBusters—except with completely untestable scenarios and much geekier humor. Trust me, it’s transcendent.

— Nici

This book simply fills me with joy. Turn to any random page and Munroe has taken a completely unlikely scenario and demonstrated just what the scientific consequences and possibilities would be if it were real. With simple illustrations and easy-to-follow explanations, you can expand your scientific knowledge and imagination at the same time.

— Jocelyn


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.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780544272996
ISBN-10: 0544272994
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014
Pages: 320
Language: English


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