What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
by Randall Munroe
narrated by Wil Wheaton
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Randall Munroe is the creator of xkcd and in preparation for writing this review I just spent like 2 hours reading through xkcd comics (for research!)
I decided to read this book after seeing it in a post by Jocelyn @ A Little Nerd Told Me. Wil Wheaton is an awesome narrator and I was looking for an audiobook anyway, so I decided to give it a shot.
Source: xkcd 2154
When I started listening to What If? I didn’t realize that the author was the creator of xkcd. I’m assuming xkcd is still popular, but when I was in high school it was huge! Everyone knew about it and we loved the comics! What I didn’t know, until listening to What If? was that the creator/author, Randall Munroe, used to work for NASA (so he is super smart!)
Source: xkcd 911
The book is awesome. If you can’t tell by the xkcd comics, Randall Munroe is super snarky and super smart. Put those together and you get seriously absurd scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions. Here are some of the questions he answers:
- If every human disappeared how long would it be before the last artificial light source would go out?
- If an asteroid was very small but super massive could you live on it?
- How much force power can Yoda output?
- When, if ever, will the bandwidth of the internet surpass that of FedEx?
- What if everyone who took the SAT guessed on every multiple choice question, how many perfect scores would there be?
If the answer is lame and unexciting he tweaks the question till we get more and more outrageous answers. (Q: what happens if we add even more power? A: Everything Blows up) And the best part is he backs up all his answers with scientific evidence. These aren’t conspiracy theories, these are completely and totally plausible answers. (no offence to the conspiracy theorists out there)
Source: xkcd 258
You may think that all this scientific information would be boring, but its not. Like I said before, Randall Munroe is super snarky. He actually makes it super interesting. Then, to top it off, the audio book is read by Wil Wheaton, and its the perfect combination. (Wil Wheaton is the king of sarcasm in my opinion!) It also helps that each chapter ranges from 3-14 minutes in length (each question is a chapter) so each answer is short and sweet. Trust me, Munroe does all the research but he condenses the answers into short, understandable, and interesting chapters.
Source: xkcd 683
If you have any inclination toward interesting and scientific answers to random questions then you will like this audiobook. Literally the only thing I didn’t like about it was that it referenced some of Munroe’s comics and I couldn’t look them up because I was driving. Otherwise it was perfect. I was actually super sad when it was over (then I discovered he has another book so I got super happy, but then I learned it doesn’t come out on audiobook till September so I was sad again)
Source: xkcd 54
One last note, I found this comic during my “research” and it pretty much describes me perfectly:
source: xkcd 1906