Bad Astronomy

Xkcd and TED

Randall Munroe
Randall, duck!

Photo by TED, from the video

What if someone threw a baseball at you at 970 million kilometers per hour?

Bad things. Very bad things.

But one good thing to come out of that is a great and fun TED talk by my friend Randall Munroe, author of the xkcd and what if? comics.

A transcript is available, too.

Randall is a delight. He has in abundance that most wonderful and peculiarly human of all characteristics: curiosity. But it’s backed by a (very) keen intellect, and a sense of wonder that turns his stick figure comics into scientific poetry.

baseball thrown at speed of light
Very, very bad things.

Drawing by Randall Munroe, from what if?

One of my favorite things in the world is to take a simple question and run it all the way through to its (sometimes most ridiculous) logical conclusion; its something science-fiction authors Isaac Asimov and Larry Niven would do in their speculative nonfiction essays that I read as a kid. I’ve done it myself a few times, but Randall has a way of making it fun and accessible that I envy.

We should all be so curious, so eager to seek answers, and to not flinch from them when they may not be so palatable. Congrats, Randall!

Randall has written a “what if” book which comes out in September. Go buy it!