Book Summary: What If by Randall Munroe

What If by Randall Munroe Book Cover

Randall Munroe, the creator of the popular webcomic xkcd, tackles some of the most absurd hypothetical questions in his book, “What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.” The book is a collection of answers to questions that are unlikely to be asked in real life but are still interesting to ponder about. The book is divided into several chapters, each focusing on a specific topic.

Chapter 1: Rockets

The first chapter of the book focuses on rockets and space travel. Munroe answers several questions related to rockets, such as how long it would take to reach the nearest star, how much fuel would be needed, and how much a spaceship would weigh. He also discusses the challenges of space travel, such as radiation, microgravity, and the psychological effects of being in space for a long time.

Chapter 2: Nuclear Weapons

The second chapter of the book deals with nuclear weapons and their effects. Munroe answers questions such as how many people would die in a nuclear war, how far away from ground zero would be safe, and how long it would take for the world to recover from a nuclear winter. He also discusses the history of nuclear weapons and their effects on human society.

Chapter 3: Biology

The third chapter of the book delves into the world of biology. Munroe answers questions such as how long it would take to evolve into a different species, how much energy humans could generate by converting fat into energy, and how long it would take to grow a tree from a seed.

Chapter 4: Chemistry

The fourth chapter of the book explores the world of chemistry. Munroe answers questions such as how much energy could be released by burning all the world’s fossil fuels, how long it would take to create a new element, and how much energy could be stored in a diamond the size of a soccer ball.

Chapter 5: Physics

The fifth chapter of the book focuses on physics. Munroe answers questions such as how fast a person could travel by riding a bicycle up a downward escalator, how much energy could be harnessed from a hurricane, and how much energy could be stored in a single atom.

Chapter 6: Miscellaneous

The final chapter of the book covers a variety of topics, including time travel, zombies, and the effects of a global flood. Munroe answers questions such as how long it would take to build a time machine, how long it would take for a zombie apocalypse to occur, and how long it would take for the Earth to recover from a global flood.

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Conclusion

Overall, “What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions” is a fascinating book that explores some of the most absurd and interesting questions in science. Munroe’s answers are both informative and entertaining, and the book is a must-read for anyone who is curious about the world around us. Whether you are interested in rockets, nuclear weapons, biology, chemistry, or physics, this book has something for everyone.

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