- Save 15% on all books purchases. Enter code PROMO15 at checkout. Here's how (restrictions apply)
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions Hardcover – Sep 2 2014
|New from||Used from|
Special Offers and Product Promotions
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
What If? maintains a delightfully free-wheeling tone throughout, especially when complicated calculations lead to whimsical results
Despite all the hard facts and gigantic numbers, it never feels like a textbook-and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy it. A" -Entertainment Weekly
"Catchy and approachable There's plenty of scientific rigor behind his elaborate explanations but he punctuates them with sly humor and winningly primitive cartoon diagrams A cut above so many popular science and technology books." - NPR.org
"Consistently fascinating and entertaining Munroe leavens the hard science with whimsical touches An illuminating handbook of methods of reasoning." - Wall Street Journal
"It's fun to watch as Munroe tackles each question and examines every possible complication with nerdy and methodical aplomb, his distinctive scribblings providing clever running commentary of peanut-gallery jokes as his train of thought (sometimes) happily derails. The delightfully demented 'What If?' is the most fun you can have with math and science, short of becoming your own evil genius We feel the tug of Munroe's playful yet existentially-tinged worldview, and all that geek logic and number-crunching becomes unexpectedly poignant." - Boston Globe
"Munroe has hit on a wonderful form of science and engineering communication that can do so much-extolling the value of analytical thinking, examining data, and doing back-of-the-envelope calculations-while entertaining readers at the same time an incredibly fun book with quirky, hand-drawn pictures." -American Scientist
"[What If?] has solved my annual birthday-present and holiday-gift dilemmas for a large group of people What makes Munroe's work so fantastic is a combination of two elements: his commitment to trying to answer even the weirdest question with solid science, and his undeniable sense of humor." -Huffington Post
"Munroe takes inane, useless and often quite pointless questions asked by real humans (mostly sent to him through his website), and turns them into beautiful expositions on the impossible that illuminate the furthest reaches, almost to the limits, of the modern sciences..The answers are all illustrated with XKCD's trademark stick figures and these are eminently approachable." -Newsweek
"What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions includes old favorites, new inquiries and the mix of expert research and accessible wit that has made Munroe a favorite among both geeks and laymen."-TIME
"Loaded with the same dry wit and blank-faced stick figures that populate xkcd, What If? is that rare book that will have you laughing as you learn just how a mass extinction might unfold." - Discover
"Wide-ranging and strangely poignant This book is tons of fun Munroe's spiffy essays do tend to resemble the sort of lectures that cool professors give on the first day of class It's quality entertainment." - Washington Independent Review of Books
"Munroe's brilliant What-If? column-which features scientifically rigorous, utterly absurd answers to ridiculous hypotheticals-has been on the bestseller lists since it was announced in March. Today, it hits shelves and: It. Is. A. Triumph." -BoingBoing
"What If? is a fast, engrossing read The charm of What If? lies in the ease Munroe has jumping past intensely interesting conclusions and onto his next thought, tangent, or consequence. It's as if Munroe is a unseen stage technician pulling back the curtain - the answers were always there, we just needed someone who knew how to show us. Even he seems surprised at what he finds." - Nerdist
"Those who enjoyed the irreverent style of Allie Brosh's best-selling memoir, Hyperbole and a Half , will enjoy Munroe's serious and silly musings on everything from science to romance." - Library Journal
About the Author
Randall Munroe is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller What If? , the science question-and-answer blog What If, and the popular webcomic xkcd. A former NASA roboticist, he left the agency in 2006 to draw comics on the Internet full-time, supporting himself through the sale of xkcd t-shirts, prints, posters, and books. He likes candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach. Very long walks. Lots of people say they like long walks on the beach, but then they get out on the beach and after just an hour or two, they say they're getting tired. Bring a tent. He lives in Massachusetts.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
It is a book filled with much humour, funny stick figures and hilarious detailed answers to the questions. I had to read it one or two chapters at a time to keep my brain from exploding. I could imagine Sheldon and his gang from the Big Bang Theory spending countless hours checking on the accuracy of the very convincing answers. Highly entertaining.
The book’s format is as follows: as indicated in the subtitle, a rather “absurd hypothetical question” is posed and the author attempts a “serious scientific answer”. Included are many cartoon drawings and a healthy dose of humour. I found the scientific explanations quite entertaining and lighthearted. A few very simple formulas are included in some sections, but these seem to be mainly for illustration purposes because some of the formulas are inconsistent in the units that are used, e.g., see page 85. Consequently a neophyte wanting to learn how to calculate should perhaps look elsewhere. Personally, as a hard core science/math enthusiast, I would have preferred more formulas and mathematical details; however, I think that the author’s main purpose was to use hand-waving physical arguments rather than mathematical rigour, in view of the types of questions involved.
Despite the book’s dimensions, i.e., relatively oversized with almost 300 pages of main text, it turned out for me to be a rather quick read. The reasons for this are several-fold; in particular, there are a great many cartoon drawings occupying much space, the posed questions are in very large font and the writing style is particularly friendly, accessible, lively and engaging, making the book hard to put down. Although any interested reader could certainly enjoy this book, science enthusiasts may find it the most engrossing due to the types of questions that the author attempts to answer.
The quality of the book immediately caught my attention after unpackaging it. There are plenty of little jokes added to the dust jacket, cover, and even the end paper inside the covers! Some images of these are included in the Amazon pictures here, but I didn't look at them to closely before buying the book. Everything is written in the classic humour style of Munroe's comic. The hardcover has a little bit of a gloss to it that I appreciated.
In terms of the actual content of the book, I was expecting verbatim explanations of the free content from the What-If webpage, with a few added questions that I hadn't seen before to flesh things out. This is more or less what I got. However, as I skimmed through (prior to gifting it to my brother, I just HAD to check out the new stuff quickly) it seemed like it was more detailed than I remembered. I think that some of the text might have been updated or added to, even on previously available explanations. I could be wrong, but that doesn't change how awesome the book is!
This book is great for anyone who appreciates a good laugh, or is curious about science and the world around them! Lots of other people have already mentioned this, but the writing style is INCREDIBLY accessible for fans of all ages and levels of understanding. My brother is only 12, but he loves the book and regularly gets excited talking with me about things he's read in it. I'm an Engineering student myself, and really appreciate the way technical accuracy and accessibility manage to be combined. It's not an easy thing to do!
However, because I've read them, the book itself was less impressive. The vast majority of the content here was recycled from the website - the "Weird and Worrying Questions from the Inbox" pages are funny, but less than a third of the real long-answer questions(18/55) are actually new content, and for the most part, I found them less interesting and more rushed-seeming than the online ones(though there's a few gems). There's some pretty big swathes of the book that a website reader will just want to skip, and bigger swathes than in previous examples I've seen of websites making books. If you are a nerd who somehow hasn't read it, you need this book. If you have, though, it's pretty expensive for a mere ~100 pages of new content.
Most recent customer reviews
When I got xkcd's what if book, I was expecting a lot of new unusual scenarios, but unfortunately a lot of what is already on the xkcd website made it into the book. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Spencer
Amazing book with interesting and witty text. Definitely want more!Published 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
I never read a book before, only because it's too long. This one is short and interesting if you love physics and maths. Love itPublished 19 days ago by Client d'Amazon
Everyone should read this. Entertaining and thought provokingPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
What if you don't buy this? You'll be disappointed if you don't. Would recommend.Published 2 months ago by Colton Carlson
Gave this to my sister for her birthday, she loves the read.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Absolutely hilarious, and makes for a fantastic coffee table book. I love to just flip to a random page and read a new answer whenever I have a moment.Published 3 months ago by Danielle Jedral
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Comics & Graphic Novels > Cartooning
- Books > Humour & Entertainment > Humour > Satire
- Books > Humour & Entertainment > Humour > Science & Scientists
- Books > Humour & Entertainment > Puzzles & Games > Trivia
- Books > Literature & Fiction > United States > Humour
- Books > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Physics
- Books > Science & Math > Physics
- Featured Stores > Holiday Gifts