What If? - Real Answers to Absurd Hypotheticals
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 a large and passionate following.
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?
In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults 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.
The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with updated and expanded versions of the most popular answers from the xkcd website. What If? will be required reading for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical.
Top ReviewsOur family has enjoyed some of the what if scenarios and laughed about ...
by dadisme (5 out of 5 stars)
October 2, 2016
Our family has enjoyed some of the what if scenarios and laughed about them. Our children are all teenagers, and they are able to understand the science as explained in the book. Their favorites are the fastest manmade object and the nuclear reactor swimming pool. The teenagers have asked us to read these aloud on long car trips.
What if you bought this book and had a blast with Munroe's take on absurd questions?
by Momma A. (5 out of 5 stars)
February 18, 2017
If you enjoy Randall Munroe's webcomic, XKCD.com , you will love this fun compilation from his blog- What if? Readers present him with absurd questions such as: What would happen if everyone on earth was in the same place and they all jumped simultaneously? Or Could you make a periodic table with actual pieces of each element? Or What would happen if you went swimming in the containment pool of a nuclear reactor? Munroe applies his extensive knowledge to each question- with unexpected and entertaining results. I bought this book after thoroughly enjoying another of his books- Thing Explainer. I purchased both because I have enjoyed XKCD for years and wanted to support his efforts. I'm glad I did, because I will enjoy sharing both with family and friends!
Best bathroom book ever
by RufusW (5 out of 5 stars)
October 8, 2017
Best bathroom book ever... and I mean that in the very best possible way you can imagine.
If you want your party guests to quickly return to intelligent conversations after visiting the loo, while still providing them with appropriate reading material, you cannot possibly do better than this.
Short chapters, great illustrations, fascinating topics...
I don't even want to think about how many hours of research went into this book, but it is absolutely amazing and I have given away multiple copies to friends over the years. Very, very highly recommended if you have even a passing interest in science and geekiness...
Thank you Randall Munroe!
I love the blog and was really looking forward to this ...
by Adam Wisecarver (3 out of 5 stars)
September 26, 2014
I love the blog and was really looking forward to this book, but buying the kindle edition was a mistake. There are a lot of missing images, and many of them are also strangely enlarged or shrunk. I'll probably buy the hardcover edition later, anyone looking to buy this stay away from the kindle.
A great coffee-table book for the avid learner.
by Quiet Coyote (5 out of 5 stars)
December 9, 2016
I love sharing the things I learn from this book with my roommates. Sadly, some of them don't understand why on earth I'd want to read what they deem a physics textbook that tells you nothing useful. I rebuttal by explaining that it's not too different from Mythbusters. Sometimes the absurd questions have definite answers, like what would happen to the batter if a pitcher pitched a ball at nearly the speed of light. Some simply don't have fun answers, but he takes them a step further to make them fun! Similar to Mythbusters, where the see what would have to happen to get the desired result. What happens if everyone on earth shined a laser pointer at the moon? Nothing noticeable. What about if everyone on the earth shined a megawatt laser at the moon? something much more interesting. This book is all kinds of fun and a great coffee-table book. I can highly reccomend it.
A go-to gift option if ever there was!
by Indomitus (5 out of 5 stars)
March 17, 2017
I purchased this as a gift but managed to read almost the entire book without breaking the binding before I gave it away. I witnessed a 17-year old boy shout with laughter and delight as he turned the pages for the first time. I laughed out loud while reading it, myself. "This is AWESOME!" he crowed, and immediately began reading excerpts to me. Definitely a hit! Most of my gifts tend to be literary. I believe books are so valuable; they can be read and shared over and over again throughout a lifetime. This book, in particular, could be given to so many diverse individuals! I can't think of a single acquaintance of mine who would not get a kick out of it. It would also be great to keep on the bedside table in the guest room for restless visitors. Enjoy!
by Sarah B. (5 out of 5 stars)
December 10, 2015
This was much more detailed and advanced than I thought it would be. It popped up when I was searching for books for my son, books that had to do with subjects like anatomy and maps and other "intelligent" topics (vs. picture books and character stories). It's way too advanced for my son, but my husband will love it and perhaps can simplify the ideas for my son. The book itself is very interesting, but might be a bit much for those not too mathematically inclined.
I love this book and had the e-version for a while ...
by Sean (5 out of 5 stars)
August 27, 2016
Some of the most interesting and entertaining learning I've ever done. Randal Munroe illustrates the beauty of science in this book by showing how it all still applies even in ridiculous situation leading to hilarious results. I love this book and had the e-version for a while but really just wanted to be able to put it on my shelf and thumb through it while feeling the pages.
This is a fun book. The delighter is the kinds of questions ...
by M. Jones (4 out of 5 stars)
August 1, 2016
This is a fun book.
The delighter is the kinds of questions asked and taken on - some are downright silly but when viewed through a (semi) serious eye become wondrous. I especially like how he breaks down large seemingly unanswerable questions and uses Napkin math to derive approximations - which exact values aren't needed. It has taught me / given the courage on how to tackle a large problem and use coarse grain math to get started.
Some parts are dumbed down a bit too much causing for me, a few explanations to be rather boring. I've read most of the stories now and find it best to read a few and put down and come back to later. As soon as my toddler daughter finishes the "tear all paper objects up" phase I plan to leave it out on the coffee table. Although my older son has discovered colored magic markers.
Great coffee table book
by Ai my me (5 out of 5 stars)
November 25, 2018
Bought this for my 10 year old advanced reader (reads at 10th - 11th grade level).
She enjoys this book very much. Good thing about this book: you don't have to start from chapter 1. You can skip to where you want to read. I also listened to this one on audible. It was very enjoyable.
Two thumbs up by my 10 year old daughter.
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