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...
  • Miranda Reads
    Trying to thoroughly answer a stupid question can take you to some pretty interesting places. Randall Munroe, ex-NASA employee and author of the wildly popular webcomic XKCD, decides to look at several, undoubtedly, absurd questions and find scientific answers to them.Nothing is too absurd for him - whether it be the logistics of finding your soulmate to what happens if our moon suddenly disappears - Munroe answers it all. But I’ve never seen t...
  • 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...
  • 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?...
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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:...
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • Hamad
    This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book PrescriptionWhat if is a non-fiction book that -as the name implies- gives answer to some absurd hypothetical questions. The book was fun to read until at some points it wasn’t. The author is apparently a genius, I don’t know how can he think in that way. And the dedication and time that he puts to answer these questions is amazing.I imagine the author as that student who used ...
  • 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...
  • Tucker
    Two years after reading this for the first time, I now own two copies and re-read it monthly. ******It started with a Kindle! Well, kind of. A long time ago, I bought a Kindle Fire. If you have bought a kindle Fire, then you know that Amazon fills the box with little 'tutorials'. *cough* ads in a pretty package*cough* Anyway, What If was on the pamphlet of books to read. It looked at it and thought interesting. I later read a book called 'Know it...
  • MischaS_
    It was okay, after several "stories" it got boring. For me, it would be better just as a blog, to read "story" or two per week, not all at once. My favourite part was the Weird (and Worrying) Questions From the What If? Inbox.Sometimes I even felt like it had to be me who posted those questions - I believed no one had as crazy ideas/question as I do... It turns out I got a lot of soulmates out there. :D
  • Lori
    This is a lot of fun from a guy who likes when things catch fire. A lot of the questions reminded me of the ones Neil Gaiman fielded after Geoff Coffey's tweet that he would donate $1 to @EFF for every person who asks @neilhimself how they can watch American Gods in their country.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Roy Lotz
    This book is a 303 page answer to the question: “What would happen if a skilled mathematician with an internet connection fielded unusual science questions?” The answer seems to be a best-seller. Munroe has recently announced that he will follow this success with a sequel, How To; and this leads us naturally to consider whether this will turn into a trilogy. If so, we can already begin to predict how the last installment will be named.If we a...
  • 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.
  • Manuel Antão
    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Rampant Geekery: "What If - Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions" by Randall MunroeI wasn’t familiar with the XKCD's web comic website. Now, I know better… I'm already a fan.This book will be better appreciated if one has some kind of scientific background and a somewhat superficial understanding of Physics (at least a basic knowledge). A cursory reading of th...