November 17, 2015 · book

Book of the Week - What If?

What If?

If you like the random absurd questions, What If? is the book for you! If you like the webcomic xkcd, this is DEFINITELY the book for you.

Randall Munroe takes crazy questions (What if the whole world gathered in one place and jumped at the same time?) and provides answers that are as scientifically accurate as possible. The book is informative and hilarious.

Book Description

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.  

My Favorite Quotes

"There’s no material safety data sheet for astatine. If there were, it would just be the word “NO” scrawled over and over in charred blood."

"I got in touch with a friend of mine who works at a research reactor, and asked him what he thought would happen to someone who tried to swim in their radiation containment pool. 'In our reactor?' He thought about it for a moment. 'You’d die pretty quickly, before reaching the water, from gunshot wounds.'"

"The scholarly authorities on freezing to death seem to be, unsurprisingly, Canadians."

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