(Book Review) What if?

“Trying to thoroughly answer a stupid question can take you to some pretty interesting places.”

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (a NASA engineer turned full time cartoonist) is one of my favorites books, usually my go to book for gift exchanges, but being a fan of his web-comic XKCD this should come as no surprise.

If you know you have a geeky sense of humor this book will certainly be to your taste. I mean, just look at the disclaimer at the start of the book:

“Do not try any of this at home. The author of this book is an Internet cartoonist, not a health or safety expert. He likes it when things catch fire or explode, which means he does not have your best interests in mind. The publisher and the author disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects resulting, directly or indirectly, from information contained in this book.”

Despite the title warning you about the 'serious science' the book is really easy to read, each question takes you only a few minutes to read through, all being filled with charming illustrations and a clever sense of humor. Munroe, backs up his claims through the use of math, computer simulations, and the inputs from experts in the field, this makes for an interesting learning opportunity while you think on the most absurd of scenarios. Take a look at the following questions if you don't know what I am talking about:

What if a glass of water was, all of a sudden, literally half empty?

What would happen if you were to gather a mole (unit of measurement) of moles (the small furry critter) in one place?

How much Force power can Yoda output?

The book is perfect for reading in small amounts, but most likely once you start reading you will find it pretty difficult to stop. If you are still unsure if this is the book for you, you can read some questions, and answers, as the ones included in it by following this link.

As a final recommendation, if you decide to buy it, go with the hardcover edition of the book, it is way more enjoyable than the paperback and kindle editions.

All images were taken from xkcd.com, credits go to Randall Munroe

You can find the rest of my reviews here. Coil subscriber can find some of my favorite quotes from the book below:

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