What If? by Randall Munroe

What If?

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 resolv...

Details What If?

TitleWhat If?
Release DateSep 2nd, 2014
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
GenreNonfiction, Science, Humor, Audiobook

Reviews What If?

  • Steve Alexander
    This is one of the most entertaining books I have ever read. And I have read over 10 books.
  • Patrick
    I've been a reader of XKCD for ages. Not just a reader, a fan. A big goey, geeky fan. So much of a fan that when I heard about this book, I went so far as to abuse my power as an author to get an Advance Reading Copy of the book, so that I could enjoy its deliciousness sooner. And... y'know... taunt people on the internet. And it worked. I got an early copy. And I treasured it. I petted it. It was precious to me. Precious. Then life got in the wa...
  • Manny
    Q: What would happen if every geek in the world received a copy of What If tomorrow morning?A: Actually, less than you'd think.First, a little background about this book. If you're a geek, it's unputdownable, a word that, if you think carefully, means "cannot be put down". (You may not be aware of this fact, since the word is nearly always misused). So the geek who receives it is going to carry on reading through breakfast, through lunch, while h...
  • Felicia
    AMAZING BOOK! I love love love it and frankly, there's no better book to read on the toilet. Off the toilet too, but I learned so much and the writing is so engaging and entertaining and just MARVELOUS. Of course in the style of xkcd, this and Atlas Obscura would be my go-to book gifts this year.
  • Valerie
    My evil plan of reading this book in small doses aloud to my students during math class has worked. Several of them have bought their own copies, and they are, I believe, planning to use their math skills for good, and not for world domination.
  • Diane
    This book opens with the best disclaimer I have ever seen:"Do not try any of this at home. The author of this book is an Internet cartoonist, not a health or safety expert. He likes it when things catch fire or explode, which means he does not have your best interests in mind. The publisher and the author disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects resulting, directly or indirectly, from information contained in this book."That disclaimer rea...
  • Lindsey Rey
    I highly recommend taking the audiobook route for this one unless you absolutely love very technical science. Wil Wheaton's narration was excellent and he delivered Munroe's humor perfectly! I loved this so much I bought a hard copy for my coffee table.
  • Nandakishore Varma
    An apple fell on Newton's head."Why didn't this fall up instead of down?" Asked the scientist......And lo, the theory of gravitation was born. - Well, not really. The story is apocryphal in all probability, like George Washington and the cherry tree. But it does illustrate an important fact.Scientific enquiry starts with seemingly absurd questions.-----------------------------------Randall Munroe is a physics graduate who briefly worked for NASA:...
  • Philip
    One of the things that's nice about goodreads is that it lets you embed pictures. ...And one of the nice things about xkcd is that it has lots of pictures licensed under CC Attribution/Non-Commerical - meaning I can post as many as I want to this review.I'm pretty sure that if you're here, you already know about xkcd. But hey, why the heck not? Right? XKCD is why this Randall Munroe character is famous.The book comes from his "what if" blog, whic...
  • Riku Sayuj
    Change.Org Petition: Despicable MunroeThe International Astronomical Union recently named an asteroid after Randall Munroe; asteroid 4942 Munroe is big enough to cause a mass extinction if it ever hits Earth.Not that he needs an asteroid to do that. He has his minions devising millions of ways to do it, on a subversive site they call xkcd.com. This book is a set of leaked manuals. It should be clear to all how dangerous this guy (and his site) re...
  • Brendon Schrodinger
    Every nerd knows Randall Munroe from his wildly humourous and insightful xkcd.com comics right? You don't? What the hell are you doing here listening to me blab on? xkcd.comFor all those people still here, and who obviously know Randall's work, let's just bask in the mixture of intelligence, cleverness, hilarity and properly labelled axes. All the nerd girls want to sleep with him and all nerd boys want to sleep with him too...be him.So it seems ...
  • Paul Bryant
    Mr Munroe includes some “weird and worrying” questions from his website’s inbox which he presents without attempting to answer – one favourite was:If you saved a whole life’s worth of kissing and used all that suction power on one single kiss, how much suction force would that single kiss have?I guess the answer might be “what pharmaceutical products have you ingested during the last four hours?” or “May I speak to your parents?...
  • Ted
    What if … every Goodreads review had to be written in a randomly determined time? What per cent of submitted reviews would end with a completed sentence?Well, this amounts to the question of, what per cent of reviewers would simply stop typing when the time ran out, instead of finishing up what they were saying and ignoring the stupid rule.But there could be a correlation (or inverse correlation?) between how reviewers reacted to such a rule, a...
  • Jamie
    I don't think I've ever laughed this much and hard from a science or non-fiction book-wait, I take that back, I haven't laughed this much from a book period. I mean periodic tables and radioactive decay doesn't normally warrant laughter-well at least when I read about it. The questions being presented is stuff that would have never crossed my mind, but the instant I read them I was like -oh wow-what the funk if that really happened? I loved the i...
  • Ashley
    This book was equal parts hilarious and utter nightmare fuel. I have never had such an emotionally confusing reading experience. One second, snorting my drink up my nose from laughter, the next trying to shove down the sudden and complete terror I'm experiencing because I've been forced to imagine trying to survive in six atmospheres of pressure brought upon by an expanding Earth, or collapsing into a pile of human goo because I've lost my DNA, a...
  • Jim
    Update: He published a lot more that aren't in this book. Read them for free here:http://what-if.xkcd.com/archive/So... I love xkcd & some of these questions were really interesting - funny on the face with some really interesting science & math backing up the answer. For instance, the bullet being hit by lightning got into quite a few interesting facts about lightning. Who wouldn't want to know if a machine gun jet pack would work including disc...
  • Darwin8u
    Q. What if _____?A. Nearly Everyone Would Die!- Randall Munroe, What If?There are certain things on this planet that you seemed to do fine without, but as soon as you discover, you can't now do without. Diet Dr. Pepper, David Foster Wallace, dark chocolate covered cherries all fit into this category. So, too, does Randall Munroe. He seems to occupy a space near, but not on, that vacated by Gary Larson when the great Gary Larson stopped drawing th...
  • Junta
    What If?, or Serendipity; or the Literary/Pop Culture Quotes Quiz Late at night, about a week ago, I went through the Top Quotes pages of Goodreads. A hundred pages, each with thirty quotes: that's 3000 quotes. I have problems. I was searching for quotes that included (on the most part, primarily consisted of) a line in the form of 'If A, B' (let's call it an If quote, or IQ) - I'd compiled them because I had a certain idea for a review where I w...
  • David
    Randall Munroe is a dangerous guy. Seriously dangerous. He is the author of the online comic strip xkcd. It's about math, science, hacking, logic, and a host of wonderfully nerdy subjects. But in this book, Munroe answers a stack of absurd hypothetical questions. Some of the questions are really crazy, like "What would happen if everyone on Earth stood as close to each other as they could and jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same ins...
  • Becky
    My boyfriend has never heard of XKCD. So I'm newly single, and looking for some fun.... ...book recommendations. I sure know how to live it up. OK, OK... Part of that is untrue - I didn't dump my boyfriend for not knowing what XKCD is. He's put up with some crazy kinds of shit from me, I GUESS I can accept this from him. *sigh* I couldn't resist reading part of this out loud to him, though. But to my dismay, I don't think that he fully appreciate...
  • Mara
    Update: This is my first experience in reading a book in paper-copy and having it actually change how much I enjoyed it. A friend who knows me all too well gave me the hardcover version of What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions as a birthday present- and reading it as an ebook just didn't do it justice. The laugh-factor jumped by several orders of magnitude! So here's to Randal Munroe, XKCD and keeping physical boo...
  • Melki
    Please, PLEASE do not try this at home.That warning has probably never been more applicable, as attempting to reenact many of the scenarios from this book will result in our atmosphere turning into plasma and leading to the instant ignition of the Earth's surface. Yeah. Just what I need...one more thing to worry about.Seriously. Please do not try making an actual Periodic Wall of Elements. A lot of those elements don't play well with others. This...
  • Lois Bujold
    I grinned all the way through this, except when I guffawed.If you know the webcomic xkcd, this needs no introduction; if you don't, 1) go find it at once (here, let me help you: http://www.xkcd.com/ ) and 2) (handwaves wildly) I don't know how to explain it. It's the only webcomic I have bookmarked. No, I don't get all the math and computer jokes either, but they do sometimes give me a glimpse into a wider world.Highly recommended.Ta, L.
  • Kaora
    This book was hilarious. I warn you not to read it when in the company of others because you will laugh out loud and subsequent explaining will be met with blank looks.Have you ever wondered what would happen if you wore Technetium as a hat or if the worlds population jumped at the same time in one location would the earth move?If so this book is for you. Randall Munroe is one smart dude that answers all your weird and wacky questions with real m...
  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    These hypothetical situations are ingenious and unique! My favorite has to be "what would happen if I built the periodic table out of bricks of the actual elements?" DONT DO IT!!!This author was a NASA physicist who quit to draw an internet comic strip, and he's brilliant. I found myself repeatedly asking, "how does he know this?" The questions were a riot! I laughed so much through this book. He made science and math fun.2017 Lenten nonfiction B...
  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    This was a Christmas present for my 12 year old science geek son, who absolutely loves it and periodically reads excerpts from it to the rest of the family so we can share his joy. The author takes absurd questions (e.g., what if the world suddenly stopped turning but the atmosphere didn't?) and answers them in great detail from a scientific point of view, with some humor and stick figure illustrations. If you're cheap or you just want to get a f...
  • Category Is: Book Review Realness!
    Randall Munroe is brilliant. I know he would disagree with me on this matter. Randall considers himself a simple cartoonist/former NASA roboticist ( just think how cool his curriculum must be),but I have been following his work for long enough to be convinced that he is anything other than brilliant. And I don’t use this term loosely.I’m not talking about his physics knowledge in particular, but mostly about his ability to pass the knowledge ...
  • Raoofa Ibrahim
    Recommended by: Bill Gates .. yes Bill, the Microsoft guy I'm a Steve Jobs fan .. but it's okay to see what the enemy is reading :P *joking* ------------my fav. science book!!! I can't express how much I liked it! to boost your imagination this is the perfect way. this is one of the rarest book I wish all the world had a copy of ! ------------a word to the author: you are genius I want to have a friend who thinks like the author
  • Chris_P
    The only thing that's thought-provoking about this book is the fact that it's sold millions of copies and is considered good by the vast majority.It bored me to death! Most (if not all) of the questions are simply useless. I mean why would I even give a fuck "what would happen if you were to gather a mole of moles in one place", or "how many unique English tweets are possible and how long it would take for the population of the world to read them...
  • Gorab Jain
    While many questions were hilarious, thought provoking, satiating all the scientific curiosity....But did not like it much overall as a book. The magic faded drastically after very interesting answers in the beginning.Favorites were :*What would happen if you hit a baseball pitched at 90% speed of light?*Would the Moon change colour if every person aimed a laser pointer at it simultaneously? [We had a real crazy discussion for this in a group!]*...