For years, xkcd has been a beloved webcomic for all manner of geek, but when Randal Munroe began accepting questions from the public for his long-form column… Well, it gives new meaning to the phrase, “there are no stupid questions.”
What if? promises to answer ridiculous hypothetical questions with theoretical scientific research, detailed explanations, and a healthy dose of sarcasm.
Why is this on our bookshelf?
Randall Munroe’s webcomic, xkcd, is popular (it has a wikipedia article) among internet denizens and science geeks. The humor in the comic is sarcastic and smart; it always focuses on humor for geeks, not about them. Munroe, a former NASA roboticist, now draws stick figures full-time.
What if? is a spin-off from the xkcd webcomic where Munroe answers the weird questions coming from his audience with the same sarcasm, but scientific accuracy, as his webcomic. I picked it up from Powell’s Books on the day they received their first shipment.
Rating (5 stars)
As much as I love the internet, this book is the best way to read What If? Plus, this book contains content you can’t find online, so that alone makes it worthwhile.
The content itself is hilarious. You’ll find yourself wanting to read the stories aloud to people who aren’t in the room. Laughing, aloud, to yourself. These questions suddenly become important. For example, you’ll finally know just what would happen if everyone on earth stood next to each other on one spot and jumped. Spoiler: nothing. And then we die.
Read this book:
One short essay at a time. Out loud. With other nerds.
Don't Read this book:
if you’re looking for a science fair experiment. Attempts to experimentally confirm any of the hypothesis in this book will likely result in death.
Once you're done, do this:
Write a comment on this book review and marvel at the hundreds of magnitude -6 earthquakes you’re causing (see page 294).
I read a quote aloud from this book and put it on YouTube: