What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Randall Munroe

Book cover for What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Book cover for What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Randall Munroe

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Description

A special 10th anniversary edition of WHAT IF?, the classic million-copy best-seller from the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, featuring new material that asks What If? x 10. This "brilliant" (Rolling Stone) book offers hilarious and informative answers to absurd questions you probably never thought to ask.


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? What if everyone only had one soulmate? What would happen if the moon went away?


In pursuit of answers, Munroe ran computer simulations, pored over stacks of declassified military research memos, solved differential equations, and consulted 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.)


In celebration of 10 years, Randall Munroe has revised his classic blockbuster to ask What If? x 10. What happens when you up the stakes by a factor of ten? The result is a 10X adventure of scientific insight and inquiry. Featuring brand new 2 color annotations and illustrations, this special anniversary edition is far more than a book for geeks, What If? explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel much smarter for having read.

About the Author

RANDALL MUNROE, a former NASA roboticist, is the creator of the webcomic xkcd and the author of xkcd: volume 0. The International Astronomical Union recently named an asteroid after him; asteroid 4942 Munroe is big enough to cause a mass extinction if it ever hits a planet like earth.

Critical Reviews

"What If? maintains a delightfully free-wheeling tone throughout, especially when complicated calculations lead to whimsical results...Despite all the hard facts and gigantic numbers, it never feels like a textbook--and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy it. A." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Catchy and approachable...There's plenty of scientific rigor behind his elaborate explanations but he punctuates them with sly humor and winningly primitive cartoon diagrams...A cut above so many popular science and technology books." -- NPR.org

"Consistently fascinating and entertaining...Munroe leavens the hard science with whimsical touches...An illuminating handbook of methods of reasoning." -- Wall Street Journal

"It's fun to watch as Munroe tackles each question and examines every possible complication with nerdy and methodical aplomb, his distinctive scribblings providing clever running commentary of peanut-gallery jokes as his train of thought (sometimes) happily derails. The delightfully demented What If? is the most fun you can have with math and science, short of becoming your own evil genius...We feel the tug of Munroe's playful yet existentially-tinged worldview, and all that geek logic and number-crunching becomes unexpectedly poignant." -- Boston Globe

"Munroe has hit on a wonderful form of science and engineering communication that can do so much--extolling the value of analytical thinking, examining data, and doing back-of-the-envelope calculations--while entertaining readers at the same time... an incredibly fun book with quirky, hand-drawn pictures." -- American Scientist

Publishing Information

Publisher: Dey Street Books
Pub date: 2014-09-02
Length: 352 pages
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