whatif_cover.jpg

“What If” You Just Bought This Book?

Contributed by
Sep 11, 2014
<?xml encoding="utf-8" ??>

Tl;dr: Buy this book.

I’ll make this easy: If you’re a fan of my friend Randall Munroe’s xkcd Web comic, then you want to buy his new book.

If you’re not, then I suggest you read a couple of posts I wrote about his stuff—his TED talk and his epic comic “Time.” Good? Good.

Randall started a second Web comic–like series called “what if?,” where he answers readers’ weird questions by extrapolating the science as far as (and, many times, quite a bit farther than) it will go. The answers are always entertaining, funny, and display a sort of naked curiosity on Randall’s part I really admire.

So with all that, I was of course happy he decided to take the best ones and compile them with all new ones to create a book called What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (available in hardcover and on Kindle). It’s loaded with really great stuff, including:

  • What happens if you pitch a baseball at 90 percent the speed of light? (bad things)
  • What happens if you had a mole of moles? (also bad things)
  • What would happen if a glass of water were literally suddenly half empty? (sorta bad things)
  • How fast can you hit a speed bump and still live? (pretty fast)

… and tons more.

Look, I answer questions for a living, too, and Randall is really, really good at this. He finds weird little scientific ways to answer the questions, but it’s his extrapolations that kill me. I laughed a lot reading this book. Even better: I learned stuff reading this book. And you will too.

So stop reading my blog, buy the book, read it, and then start reading my blog again. In that order. Go.

Make Your Inbox Important

Get our newsletter and you’ll be delivered the most interesting stories, videos and interviews weekly.

Sign-up breaker