What If?

Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (What If? #1)

Hardcover, 303 pages

English language

Published Sept. 1, 2014 by Mariner Books.


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4 stars (2 reviews)

Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD 'a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language' which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. 'My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ' He liked these questions so much that he started up What If.

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3 stars

If you really like near future scifi written by people who have a day job in physics or astronomy, and you especially like the pages of description of how some hypothetical space weapon works, this might be your favourite book ever. Especially if you don't miss characters or plot.

For the rest of us., it's a bit hit and miss. A lot of the chapters end up being about death and destruction, for whatever reason.

Disclaimer: I did listen to the chapters in random order, because apparently MP3 metadata is hard. I honestly don't think this matters that much.

Review of 'What if?' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Monroe's book answers that old question, "Is there such a thing as a stupid question?" It turns out the answer is "yes." But that doesn't lessen the enjoyment of the book!

It also is a book that graphically (!) shows that it's not always obvious what happens to something if it is taken to a physical extreme. The results are fascinating!

Monroe is writing "what if? Two: Science Boogaloo." And that's a good thing


  • Mathematics
  • Miscellanea
  • Science
  • Questions and answers
  • Physics