Synopses & Reviews
From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, hilarious and informative 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 the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there was 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 the xkcd website. What If? will be required reading for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical.
"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." Entertainment Weekly
"Catchy and approachable....There's plenty of scientific rigor behind his elaborate explanations but he punctuates them with sly humor & 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
"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 popular webcomic xkcd and the science question-and-answer blog What If. Randall was born in Easton, Pennsylvania and grew up outside Richmond, Virginia. After studying physics at Christopher Newport University, he got a job building robots at NASA Langley Research Center. In 2006, he left NASA 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.