What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014 - Humor - 303 pages
3740 Reviews
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.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BEGivens - LibraryThing

I would highly recommend this book for any curious person. I would also highly recommend this book for scientists of all natures who are fans of sarcasm. Having a significant amount of background ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kmajort - LibraryThing

I've enjoyed Randall Munroe's webcomic XKCD for years. This book is a collection of hypothetical questions submitted to the "What If" page of his blog. Most are outrageous, but his answers/responses ... Read full review

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Contents

Global Windstorm
1
Relativistic Baseball
7
Spent Fuel Pool
10
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 1
14
New YorkStyle Time Machine
15
Soul Mates
23
Laser Pointer
27
Periodic Wall of the Elements
35
SelfFertilization
158
High Throw
168
Lethal Neutrinos
174
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 8
178
Speed Bump
179
Lost Immortals
183
Orbital Speed
187
FedEx Bandwidth
192

Everybody Jump
43
A Mole of Moles
47
Hair Dryer
52
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 2
60
The Last Human Light
61
MachineGun Jetpack
68
Rising Steadily
73
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 3
77
Orbital Submarine
78
ShortAnswer Section
83
Lightning
89
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 4
95
Human Computer
96
Little Planet
102
Steak Drop
107
Hockey Puck
112
Common Cold
114
Glass Half Empty
119
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 5
125
Alien Astronomers
126
No More DNA
131
Interplanetary Cessna
137
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 6
142
Yoda
143
Flyover States
146
Falling with Helium
150
Everybody Out
153
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 7
157
Free Fall
195
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 9
199
Sparta
200
Drain the Oceans
204
Part II
210
Twitter
217
Lego Bridge
222
Longest Sunset
228
Random Sneeze Call
233
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 10
236
Expanding Earth
237
Weightless Arrow
244
Sunless Earth
248
Updating a Printed Wikipedia
252
Facebook of the Dead
255
Sunset on the British Empire
259
Stirring Tea
262
All the Lightning
266
Loneliest Human
270
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 11
273
Raindrop
274
SAT Guessing
278
Neutron Bullet
280
Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If? Inbox 12
289
Richter 15
290
Back Matter
297
Copyright

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About the author (2014)

Randall Munroe is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller What If? , the science question-and-answer blog What If, and the popular webcomic xkcd. A former NASA roboticist, he left the agency in 2006 to draw comics on the Internet full-time, supporting himself through the sale of xkcd t-shirts, prints, posters, and books. He likes candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach. Very long walks. Lots of people say they like long walks on the beach, but then they get out on the beach and after just an hour or two, they say they're getting tired. Bring a tent. He lives in Massachusetts.

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