***** (5 out of 5) · Books · Nonfiction · Uncategorized

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

by Randall Munroe

narrated by Wil Wheaton



Amazon | Goodreads

*Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links. If you purchase anything through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts and opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

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!)


Source:ย Munroe self portrait drawn for Time Magazine

I decided to read this book after seeing it in a post byย 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.ย  I’m assuming xkcd is still popular, but when I was in high school it was huge!ย  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.ย  If you can’t tell by the xkcd comics, Randall Munroe is super snarky and super smart.ย  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.ย  (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.ย  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.ย  He actually makes it super interesting.ย  Then, to top it off, the audio book is read by Wil Wheaton, and its the perfect combination.ย  (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.ย  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.ย  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.ย  Otherwise it was perfect.ย  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:

making_progress (1)

source: xkcd 1906


11 thoughts on “What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

    1. I don’t know if I would have liked it as much in a physical book? I think Wil Wheaton definitely added to the awesomeness ๐Ÿ˜€ But it had a lot of super fun information! I hope you like it if you decided to read it ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. I gave this book to someone as a gift, but I haven’t read it myself. (Although recently, I was looking up some weird science question with my family and ended up on his website, which was amazing). Knowing that Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook means it’s going on my to-listen list ASAP! Great review — thanks so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LOTS OF PROBLEMS AND A SPREADSHEET!!! This is also me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I loved listening to this audiobook, and I agree my only complaint with it was that when I was listening to it (on an airplane) I couldn’t read the corresponding comics, either. Though I just remembered that Mr. Wyrm has a paper copy, so I should go re-read it now. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! I’m not the only one ๐Ÿ˜‚ It described me so perfectly ๐Ÿ˜‚

      And I’m glad you liked it too!! You’ll have to let me know if the paper copy is as good as the audiobook. (because I think Wil Wheaton is definitely part of the reason I loved it so much ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

      Liked by 1 person

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