Tl;dr: Buy this book.
I’ll make this easy: If you’re a fan of my friend Randall Munroe’s xkcd Web comic, then you want to buy his new book.
If you’re not, then I suggest you read a couple of posts I wrote about his stuff—his TED talk and his epic comic “Time.” Good? Good.
Randall started a second Web comic–like series called “what if?,” where he answers readers’ weird questions by extrapolating the science as far as (and, many times, quite a bit farther than) it will go. The answers are always entertaining, funny, and display a sort of naked curiosity on Randall’s part I really admire.
So with all that, I was of course happy he decided to take the best ones and compile them with all new ones to create a book called What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (available in hardcover and on Kindle). It’s loaded with really great stuff, including:
- What happens if you pitch a baseball at 90 percent the speed of light? (bad things)
- What happens if you had a mole of moles? (also bad things)
- What would happen if a glass of water were literally suddenly half empty? (sorta bad things)
- How fast can you hit a speed bump and still live? (pretty fast)
… and tons more.
Look, I answer questions for a living, too, and Randall is really, really good at this. He finds weird little scientific ways to answer the questions, but it’s his extrapolations that kill me. I laughed a lot reading this book. Even better: I learned stuff reading this book. And you will too.
So stop reading my blog, buy the book, read it, and then start reading my blog again. In that order. Go.