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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions | [Randall Munroe]

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent of the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there were a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?
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Publisher's Summary

From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd comes this hilarious and informative book of answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask.

Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent of the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there were a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?

In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by signature xkcd comics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion.

The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with updated and expanded versions of the most popular answers from thexkcd website. What If? will be required listening for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical.

©2014 Randall Munroe (P)2014 Blackstone Audiobook

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  •  
    Charles TULSA, OK, United States 09-28-14
    Charles TULSA, OK, United States 09-28-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good in Smaller Chunks"

    I found this very entertaining, overall. Wheaton did a great job, as is expected with his work. Munroe is a smart guy and funny in a lot of ways. But not being a math or science fellow myself (liberal arts guy), I found a lot of the listen to be shooting way over my head. I would glaze over just a bit. Further, there were a large number of questionable logic leaps, though that judgment is clearly the provence of the author/physicist in charge.

    A number of references to the webcomic/website as well- I imagine it translated very well in the print version, but it was essentially useless in the audio.

    I liked it. It was funny. It is worth buying (I wouldn't burn a credit on it). Just be aware of the above as you click add to cart.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 09-25-14
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 09-25-14 Member Since 2002
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    "be ready to laugh!"

    Great prep for an interview at Google. This book poses a wide range of questions, most of which can only be answered in a conceptual fashion using equations few of us are very familiar with. The fun part is when Randall Munroe attaches equations to help the listener understand how to approach an answer. My favorite question: What is the probability of calling someone, saying gesundheit when they said hello, and discovering that they just sneezed. Super narration too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Connecticut, U.S. 09-27-14
    Karen Connecticut, U.S. 09-27-14 Member Since 2004
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    "My only complaint: It wasn't longer"

    Oh, I loved this audiobook... a great combination of interesting (and sometimes strange) science facts and xkcd-flavored humor. My only complaint: It ended too soon. Highly recommended.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dedan Killeen, TX, United States 09-13-14
    Dedan Killeen, TX, United States 09-13-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Hope You got an A in Math and Physics..."

    First of all it's read by Wil Wheaton, awesome! If you're not familiar with who that is then you're probably expecting a completely different book than anything written by Munroe.

    As a fan of XKCD I'm all to comfortable with playing along as if I understood the highly mathematical joke I just read. After you hear the whiz of jokes flying over your head enough you kind of go with it. Now imagine a few hours of that and you'll kind of get what this books is like listening to it. While Munroe does an excellent and accurate job (I think it's accurate, if not at least well described) of explaining the "what if" scenarios, the mathematical explanations are lengthy and unless you're accustomed to graduate level physics lectures stands a very good chance of inducing a "zone out" until the scenario returns to a narrative laymen description.

    Don't let this deter you from giving it a shot! You'll get the idea of every one of the "what if" scenarios I promise you.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wayne P Martin 09-23-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Just two words needed."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Only two words needed for this review, MORE PLEASE. If you are a fan of "Myth Busters" or "The Straight Dope" you will love this book. My only possible complaint would be it wasn't long enough, I want more.


    What does Wil Wheaton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I love Wil's reading style he was able to inject just the right amount of sarcasm into the book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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