What If?

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

By Randall Monroe

7/7 stars

I loved this book. It is funny and engaging (and even somewhat informative). Monroe is quite talented at extrapolating answers to completely over the top questions. Many of these have already appeared in his blog, but they are still fun to read again.

The main thing I learned in this book is that people are crazy. The questions that were submitted often blew my mind with their sheer creativity. I think my favorite part about this book is the collection of questions he either doesn’t answer or answers in one sentence. One of them goes like this:

Q. What if you strapped C4 to a boomerang? Could this be an effective weapon, or                 would it be as stupid as it sounds?

A. Aerodynamics aside, I’m curious what tactical advantage you’re expecting to gain              by having the high explosive fly back at you if it misses the target (88).

Every part of this question and answer made me laugh. In fact, I read it aloud to at least four people over the course of the day because I found it so delightful. Many of the questions were in this same vein. Some were funny, some were serious and all were absurd.

The other thing I learned is that if you have a suitably ridiculous question, Monroe can probably destroy the world with it (or at least a sizable chunk of it). I don’t know how much use this knowledge will be in my everyday life, but I am glad I know it. It seems important to know somehow.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you like reading about science at all.

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