What If? by Randall Munroe

Book Review

 


What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical QuestionsBook Genre: Non-Fiction

Book Series: N/A

Released: 9/2/14 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 303  Price: Hard cover $14.66

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audio book from my library

 

Book Synopsis:

Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD ‘a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language’ which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. ‘My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ‘ He liked these questions so much that he started up What If.
If your cells suddenly lost the power to divide, how long would you survive?
How dangerous is it, really, to be in a swimming pool in a thunderstorm?
If we hooked turbines to people exercising in gyms, how much power could we produce?
What if everyone only had one soulmate?
When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British empire?
How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?
What would happen if the moon went away?
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, studded with memorable cartoons and infographics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion. Far more than a book for geeks, WHAT IF: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel much the smarter for having read.

My Review:

I borrowed this book simply because I wanted to listen to an audio book read by Wil Wheaton.  This book also just happened to sound interesting as well, even if it was non-fiction.  I have to say I was not disappointed one bit, this book was so much fun and I am going to have to start following the author’s website.

Not a lot I can review about the book.  It is what it is; the author answers crazy questions poised to him using science.  It makes you wonder and wish you had paid better attention in science class, if only so much math wasn’t involved…  It also makes one think that there are some seriously disturbed people out there in the world.  The book is set up so that each chapter tackles a different question with break chapters where the author shares with us some of the truly disturbing questions that have been ask.  Wil Wheaton is perhaps the perfect narrator for this book as his voice adds the perfect amount of snark and inflection that bring the answers to life.  I will have to seek other books that he has read to see what I think of them as well.

Like I said this was a fun listen.  Perfect for a car ride where you don’t necessarily want a story that might have inappropriate scenes for some of the passengers.  This would be great for a ride with teens as it might spark an interest in the sciences and lead to some great discussion.

My Rating: 4 stars

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