What If? by Randall Munroe

Review by Shwetha H S

Caution: This book is only for people who find solace in the chaotic world of science and equations and not in the ignorant world surrounding it.

What If? by Randall Munroe is a collection of certain “queries” submitted to a segment What If on his website xkcd, which by itself is hugely popular. The author is a talented individual who has a knack of combining humor with science. Pick up this book only if you appreciate science or comics or combination of both. Still not getting what I am trying to say? Then, I don’t have any other option left than citing some of the absurd question from the book:

* If every person on Earth aimed a laser pointer at the Moon at the same time, would it change color?

* Is it possible to build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?

* If everyone put little turbine generators on the downspouts of their houses and businesses, how much power would we generate? Would we ever generate enough power to offset the cost of the generators?

* What would happen if lightening stuck a bullet midair?

* If everyone on the planet stayed away from each other for a couple of weeks, wouldn’t the common cold be wiped out?

* What temperature would a chainsaw (or other cutting equipment) need to be at to instantly cauterize any injuries inflicted by it?

* I read about some researchers who were trying to produce sperm from bone marrow stem cells. If a woman were to have sperm cells made from her own stem cells and impregnate herself, what would be her relationship with her daughter?

* Could a (small) rocket (with payload) be lifted to a high point in the atmosphere where it would only need a small rocket to get to escape velocity?
* How many unique English tweets are possible? How long would it take for the population of the world to read them all out loud?
* Assuming a zero-gravity environment with an atmosphere identical to Earth’s, how long would it take the friction of air to stop an arrow fired from a bow? Would it eventually come to a standstill and hover in midair?
* What if everyone in Great Britain went to one of the coasts and started paddling? Could they move the island at all?
If you still haven’t got the point, then may be you should pick up this book!
Rest assured, all the above mentioned questions and many more like that have been logically answered. Even better, Randall’s answers are more than enough! As given on its cover, this book is truly Totally Brilliant and Nerd Royalty! Have fun raking your grey matter!
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