Dan’s Book Club

We’re all nerds here, and if there is anything nerds are good at it is asking good questions. What if? by Randall Munroe, author of the web comic XKCD, is filled with none of these. Have you ever asked yourself “what would happen if I threw a baseball at close to the speed of light?” or “how close to a supernova would I have to be to get a lethal dose of neutrino radiation?” Of course not. The questions are absurd but, as it turns out, reading Munroe’s detailed and sarcastic analysis of each situation is entertaining. In addition, the illustrations for the book are done by Munroe himself in the style of his web comic and retain the brilliantly witty sense of humor which has made the web comic popular among the nerds and geeks of the internet. Munroe knows what he is talking about as he does his calculations throughout the book, before beginning his current career as a cartoonist, he worked as a NASA roboticist. The book takes some minor tangents such as the recurring section “Weird (and Worrying) Questions From the What If? Box.” where Munroe acknowledges but does not respond to questions like “Is it possible to cry so much you dehydrate yourself?” The book also does not always answer questions in an expected manner. For example the question of getting all of humanity to get together and jump at the same time spirals into the chaos of everyone getting home after the event. Check out the website xkcd.com for example question from the book.


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