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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions Paperback – 24 Sep 2015

4.6 out of 5 stars 580 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
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  • Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (24 Sept. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848549563
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848549562
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (580 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

With this book and with XKCD, you're a kid with a chemistry set all over again. [Randall Munroe's] enthusiasm for all things scientific is infectious . . . required reading for grown-ups, it's just fun to remember that science is really, really cool (REGISTER)

Smart answers to silly questions: Randall Munroe reveals all (GUARDIAN)

What If? maintains a delightfully free-wheeling tone throughout, especially when complicated calculations lead to whimsical results. Despite all the hard facts and gigantic numbers, it never feels like a textbook-and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy it (ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY)

The best bathroom book you'll ever buy...Munroe takes inane, useless and often quite pointless questions asked by real humans (mostly sent to him through his website), and turns them into beautiful expositions on the impossible that illuminate the furthest reaches, almost to the limits, of the modern sciences .The first chapter, "Q. What would happen if the Earth and all terrestrial objects suddenly stopped spinning, but the atmosphere retained its velocity?" ends with the anthropomorphized moon worrying over the state of the Earth, and, with the gravity generated by its own rotation around the Earth, saving our dying planet. The physics are real; so is the emotional content. . . The answers are all illustrated with xkcd's trademark stick figures.. . . . and these are eminently approachable (NEWSWEEK)

Brilliant (ROLLING STONE)

What If? includes old favorites, new inquiries and the mix of expert research and accessible wit that has made Munroe a favorite among both geeks and laymen (TIME)

Munroe's brilliant What-If? column-which features scientifically rigorous, utterly absurd answers to ridiculous hypotheticals-has been on the bestseller lists since it was announced in March. Today, it hits shelves and: It. Is. A. Triumph (BOINGBOING)

[What If?] has solved my annual birthday-present and holiday-gift dilemmas for a large group of people . . . What makes Munroe's work so fantastic is a combination of two elements: his commitment to trying to answer even the weirdest question with solid science, and his undeniable sense of humour. So, here's a "What If?" from me: If everyone on the planet simultaneously bought a copy of this book, stopped what they were doing and read it cover to cover, would modern civilization and our global economy collapse? It's worth trying the experiment. (HUFFINGTON POST)

For the record, I'm loving XKCD's What If -- 'Dear Abby for mad scientists' (NEIL GAIMAN)

Munroe has hit on a wonderful form of science and engineering communication that can do so much-extolling the value of analytical thinking, examining data, and doing back-of-the-envelope calculations-while entertaining readers at the same time . . . an incredibly fun book with quirky, hand-drawn pictures (AMERICAN SCIENTIST)

Thoughtful, scientific, and highly entertaining (PARADE)

If you're the kind of person whose brain whizzes with questions, Munroe's book may calm the noise. He's done all the hard work for you (SHORTLIST)

XKCD is nerd royalty, the alpha dork, there's no geek more widely cited and loved (BEN GOLDACRE, author of BAD SCIENCE)

It's totally brilliant and everyone who matters already knows that! (TIM HARFORD, THE UNDERCOVER ECONOMIST)

Education should aim to teach people to reason confidently about problems that they have never come across before. This book is a great deal of fun, and a masterclass in such reasoning. Like all the best lessons, you only realise you've learnt something once you've finished it (The Economist)

Dangerously absorbing . . . if you have ever been gripped by an insatiable, preposterous intellectual curiosity (regardless of actual scientific knowledge), I could not think of a better book to keep you from doing that essay for an extra hour or two (Varsity)

The reader is left constantly subject to outbursts of laughter, lin­gering doubts concerning the sanity of the human race, and an ever-growing fascination with the way our world and the universe works . . . Though science geeks will be the first to acknowledge Munroe's greatness, even people suffering from a chronic hatred towards anything concerned with math will find the humour and absurdity of What If? hard to resist (The Student)

Funny and fascinating: brilliant for dinner with mates (Graeme le Saux)

It will satisfy the curious and arouse curiosity in anyone who's not - and it's got great jokes (Irish Times)

An essential holiday companion (Nature)

Book Description

Science's most intriguing questions answered by the web's favourite writer, the genius behind xkcd.com.

Munroe's hilarious and compelling answers explain everything from the odds of meeting your one true soulmate to how many humans a rampaging T-Rex would need to eat a day.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've loved this book.

It's written in much the same what that my mind works and how I myself would have written it.

It tries to communicate complex and trick ideas, but it can't help but joke about things that simply lend themselves to it.

A lot of people think science and engineering is a boring. They think that the people that are fascinated by them are similarly afflicted. Read this book and see firstly how amazing science and engineering can be, and secondly what a crazy bunch of loons the people involved in them are.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am so happy that Randall Munroe turned what if into a book. If you know about Randall, I won't need to explain any more as to why you need this book. If you don't know of him - this book is a hilarious way of answering intriguingly weird questions with accurate science and ridiculous scenarios. Perfect present for my brother, but I snuck a read of it before giving it to him!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a great book. Really fun.

BUT DON'T BUY IT ON KINDLE.

There are cartoons throughout the book, but they are very small on the Kindle display, and changing the size of the print doesn't affect the size of the cartoons. Most are too small to read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. Very interesting if you like physics and chemistry. I had a lot of fun while reading this book and I think it's the best book to answer hypothetical questions. I would recommend to anyone !
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By R. F. Hawkins TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Jun. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An interesting read but I thought the "Serious Scientific Answers" were often as absurd as the questions. Don't take some of the answers too seriously!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing, great fun to read
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
fun and informative
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ideal if you have an off-the-wall sense of humour.
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