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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions Hardcover – September 2, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 12,652 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014: What if everyone on earth aimed a laser pointer at the moon at the same time? What if you could drain all the water from the oceans? What if all the lightning in the world struck the same place? What if there were a book that considered weird, sometimes ridiculous questions, and it was so compelling that you found yourself skimming its pages to find out what would happen if you threw a baseball at light speed? With What If, Randall Munroe has written such a book. As he does in his extraordinarily popular xkcd webcomic, Munroe applies reason and research to hypothetical conundrums ranging from the philosophical to the scientific (often absurd, but never pseudo) that probably seemed awesome in your elementary school days—but were never sufficiently answered. It’s the rare combination of edifying and fun. —Jon Foro

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“What If? is one of my Internet must-reads, and I look forward to each new installment, and always read it with delight.” —Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

“Randall Munroe is a national treasure.” —Phil Plait

“For scientists, the price of progress is specialization. When the goal of any researcher is to lay claim to a tiny niche in a crowded discipline, it’s hard for laypeople to find answers to the really important interdisciplinary questions. Questions like, 'Is it possible to build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?' Fortunately, such people can turn to Randall Munroe, the author of the XKCD comic strip loved by fans of internet culture. . . . For Munroe, who writes with a clarity and wit honed over eight years of writing captions for his webcomic, the fact that a question might be impossible to solve is no deterrent to pursuing it.” —Wall Street Journal Speakeasy blog

"By speaking the language of geeks. . . while dealing with relationships and the meaning of a computer-centric life, xkcd has become required reading for techies across the world….The Internet has also created a bond between Mr. Munroe and his readers that is exceptional. They reenact in real life the odd ideas he puts forward in his strip." —The New York Times

"With his steady regimen of math jokes, physics jokes, and antisocial optimism, xkcd creator Randall Munroe, a former NASA roboticist, scores traffic numbers in NBC.com or Oprah.com territory. One key to the strip’s success may be that it doesn’t just comment on nerd culture, it embodies nerd culture." —Wired, in an issue featuring "the people who have shaped the planet’s past 20 years"

"Sometimes the beloved geek-chic webcomic xkcd is funny in a broadly accessible way. Sometimes it’s achingly poignant, sometimes it’s socially intelligent, and sometimes it’s esoteric humor that programmers or scientists have to explain to the rest of us. But at its most ambitious, it either packs massive amounts of interesting information into a small space, or engages in breathtaking experiments with the medium….[A]t its best [xkcd] isn’t a strip comic so much as an idea factory and a shared experience." —Onion AV Club

Product details

  • Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition (September 2, 2014)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0544272994
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0544272996
  • Item Weight : 1.8 pounds
  • Dimensions : 7 x 1.17 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 12,652 ratings

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
12,652 global ratings
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John Birch
5.0 out of 5 stars A total joy for anyone with an enquiring mind and interest in science
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 27, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 2, 2017
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Stuart Aken
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, Funny, Mind-expanding!
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Rizki
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute genius. Please read it.
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Dr. Michael Heron
5.0 out of 5 stars What if all popular science books were written like this?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 8, 2016
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