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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

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9780544272996: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
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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 an enormous, dedicated following, as do his deeply researched answers to his fans’ strangest questions.

The queries he receives range from merely odd to downright diabolical:

· What if I took a swim in a spent-nuclear-fuel pool?

· Could you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?

· What if a Richter 15 earthquake hit New York City?

· Are fire tornadoes possible?

His responses are masterpieces of clarity and wit, gleefully and accurately explaining everything from the relativistic effects of a baseball pitched at near the speed of light to the many horrible ways you could die while building a periodic table out of all the actual elements.

The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with the most popular answers from the xkcd website. What If? is an informative feast for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical.

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Praise for Randall Munroe, What If? and xkcd:
 
What If? is one of my Internet must-reads, and I look forward to each new installment, and always read it with delight.”
—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
 
“Randall Munroe is a national treasure.”
—Phil Plait
 
“For scientists, the price of progress is specialization. When the goal of any researcher is to lay claim to a tiny niche in a crowded discipline, it’s hard for laypeople to find answers to the really important interdisciplinary questions. Questions like, 'Is it possible to build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?' Fortunately, such people can turn to Randall Munroe, the author of the XKCD comic strip loved by fans of internet culture. . . . For Munroe, who writes with a clarity and wit honed over eight years of writing captions for his webcomic, the fact that a question might be impossible to solve is no deterrent to pursuing it.”
Wall Street Journal Speakeasy blog
 
"By speaking the language of geeks. . . while dealing with relationships and the meaning of a computer-centric life, xkcd has become required reading for techies across the world....The Internet has also created a bond between Mr. Munroe and his readers that is exceptional. They reenact in real life the odd ideas he puts forward in his strip." —The New York Times
 
"With his steady regimen of math jokes, physics jokes, and antisocial optimism, xkcd creator Randall Munroe, a former NASA roboticist, scores traffic numbers in NBC.com or Oprah.com territory. One key to the strip’s success may be that it doesn’t just comment on nerd culture, it embodies nerd culture." —Wired, in an issue featuring "the people who have shaped the planet’s past 20 years"
 
"Sometimes the beloved geek-chic webcomic xkcd is funny in a broadly accessible way. Sometimes it’s achingly poignant, sometimes it’s socially intelligent, and sometimes it’s esoteric humor that programmers or scientists have to explain to the rest of us. But at its most ambitious, it either packs massive amounts of interesting information into a small space, or engages in breathtaking experiments with the medium....[A]t its best [xkcd] isn’t a strip comic so much as an idea factory and a shared experience." —Onion AV Club

Praise for Randall Munroe and xkcd:"By speaking the language of geeks. . . while dealing with relationships and the meaning of a computer-centric life, xkcd has become required reading for techies across the world....The Internet has also created a bond between Mr. Munroe and his readers that is exceptional. They reenact in real life the odd ideas he puts forward in his strip." —The New York Times

"With his steady regimen of math jokes, physics jokes, and antisocial optimism, xkcd creator Randall Munroe, a former NASA roboticist, scores traffic numbers in NBC.com or Oprah.com territory. One key to the strip’s success may be that it doesn’t just comment on nerd culture, it embodies nerd culture." —Wired, in an issue featuring "the people who have shaped the planet’s past 20 years"

"Sometimes the beloved geek-chic webcomic xkcd is funny in a broadly accessible way. Sometimes it’s achingly poignant, sometimes it’s socially intelligent, and sometimes it’s esoteric humor that programmers or scientists have to explain to the rest of us. But at its most ambitious, it either packs massive amounts of interesting information into a small space, or engages in breathtaking experiments with the medium....[A]t its best [xkcd] isn’t a strip comic so much as an idea factory and a shared experience." —Onion AV Club

L'autore:

RANDALL MUNROE, a former NASA roboticist, is the creator of the webcomic xkcd and the author of xkcd: volume 0. The International Astronomical Union recently named an asteroid after him; asteroid 4942 Munroe is big enough to cause a mass extinction if it ever hits a planet like earth.

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