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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions Hardcover – September 2, 2014
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OUR DUST JACKET IS SAME AS STOCK PHOTO SHOWN, AND THERE IS MINOR EDGE WEAR. BOOK HAS A MINOR DING AT TOP EDGE OF SPINE. CLEAN COPY WITHOUT MARKING OR WRITING.
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* What would happen if a pitcher threw a baseball at close to the speed of light? (a massive explosion)
* What if you had a bullet with the density of a neutron star? (it'd sink well into the earth, or if well-supported it would be near-impossible to touch it because of its local gravitational effects -- at least not without the blood vessels in your fingers rupturing and your blood pooling into a distorted sphere around it)
* What would happen if all your DNA suddenly, just, weren't there? (you probably would die as if you had undergone severe chemotherapy, or eaten one of the most toxic mushrooms in the world)
If you're on the fence about this book, you can read a fair bit of it on the original What If? site. That should give you enough of the flavor to know whether you should pick it up yourself. But you'll have to buy the book for some of its totally-new questions and answers (and to enjoy some of the loonier submitted questions, interspersed within the book for comic relief), one of which coincidentally was submitted by my current roommate. :-) (Mini-disclosure!)
Having read the blog and been entertained by it, and having plenty of other things to read, I wasn't in a rush to pick this up, so I waited for it to be on sale. If it's on sale when you're looking at it, definitely pick it up. Otherwise, I'd say pick it up whenever you need a palate cleanser.
I pre-ordered this book in June and enough time had elapsed in the ensuing weeks that I was pleasantly surprised and mildly curious when a nondescript package arrived at my door late last night.
As I ripped the corrugated cardboard open I was assaulted by bright red embossing on a tasteful white cover. "What If?" The dust jacket inquired.
I was reminded of the eponymous Hitchhikers Guide with the words "...DON'T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover."
Firstly, the quality of the printing if excellent. Images are crisp and the book has a nice weight and expensive feel.
Randall's signature attention to detail is prevalent throughout the entire construction from the map on the inside of the dust jacket to the excellent footnotes sprinkled throughout the text.
I do not think I am going to far in saying that this book is the epitome of scientific inquiry.
Ask questions, learn something.
It manages to educate, empower, and entertain all in the same stroke.
Mr. Munroe has joined the likes of Bill Nye, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, and Richard Feynman in the echelon of excellent science communicators.