What if? by Randall Munroe

Genre: popular science. ⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 4.17.⭐️Stars from me: 5.

What if this lake dries out completely? Piva lake is an artificial lake, but even this lake lost a lot of water last summer. It was that hot.

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Those lines on the shore show how much the water level dropped.

What if? visited Piva lake and even though the book doesn’t answer any questions about the lake, it answers many other unusual questions. Here’s the book’s photo session and review.

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What if? is a masterpiece by Randall Munroe. As the book states on its cover, it contains “serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions”.

I am quite far away from science. Apart from a wish to understand things, I possess no scientific inclinations. Yet I laughed my head off while reading this book. No other book ever made me laugh so much.

Randall Munroe is a unique author because he’s both a famous cartoonist and a scientist. The book is a collection of absurd questions the author had been receiving on his blog and his answers to them. Here are some examples of the questions:

  • “If everyone on the planet stayed away from each other for a couple of weeks, wouldn’t the common cold be wiped out?”
  • “What would happen if absolutely everyone jumped at the same time?”
  • “If an asteroid was very small but supermassive, could you really live on it like the Little Prince?”
  • “If you suddenly began rising steadily at 1 foot per second, how exactly would you die? Would you freeze or suffocate first? Or something else?”
  • “What would happen to the Earth if the Sun suddenly switched off?”

The answers are accompanied by Munroe’s illustrations.

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Some questions are so weird they received no answer but a cartoon.

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Truth be told there are some rare moments when Randall goes deeper into formulas and explanations and I did skip those parts. I have formula intolerance. I don’t like numbers. Even phone numbers make me drowsy. Still I was able to enjoy this book very much.

Here’s a Wikipedia article about the book if you want to learn more. I think it’s better to order a paper copy of the book, not a digital one, because of all the illustrations.

I highly recommend this book. It’s an awesome read and a great present for anybody with a curious mind.

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