Quick Book Review: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

What if I swam in a nuclear fuel pool? Could I make a jet-pack out of downward firing guns? What happens if we drained all the oceans? These are the crazy questions Randall Munroe, former NASA roboticist, strives to answer with real science in this book. Each chapter is a question submitted to the author by readers of his website and his answer to the question. I heard about What If on one of my favorite YouTube channels, Good Mythical Morning. They read this book for their book club (they discuss it in this episode), and I thought it sounded really interesting. I finally got my hands on a copy from my library, and it was definitely worth the wait!

“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.” – “Disclaimer” (page 15)

What I Liked:

1. It was very entertaining, and even though it was a science book, I was laughing very hard through a lot of the questions!

2. I’m not a “science-y” minded person, and I understood 90% of the answers just fine.

3. I learned a lot about physics reading this book.

4. The comics made it even better. I think my favorite one was the guy in the hat exclaiming, “What if we added more power?”

What I Didn’t Like:

1.  I was TOTALLY lost with the genetics in the chapter called “Self-Fertilization.”

2. Some of the math in a couple of the chapters was way beyond what I could understand.

… but of course these things are not the author’s fault. It was really hard to find something I didn’t like.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

~ Kayla


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