by Randall Munroe, Houghton Mifflin
Randall Munroe has definitely found a second act career after working for NASA. As a scientific pundit he has found a way to take esoteric facts and turn them into a dialogue with his endless Internet fans on his xkcd.com. With a rather playful approach in What If?, Randall Munroe simply answers funky questions that resonate with his readers who ask them.
You have to love a book that has chapters entitled “Random Sneeze Call,” “No More DNA,” “Alien Astronomers,” “Lethal Neutrinos,” “Machine-Gun Jetpack” and “Weird (and Worrying) Questions from the What If? Inbox, #1.” He even calls himself “a sort of Dear Abby for mad scientists.”
And these are no ordinary questions. Some of them go like this: “What if I took a swim in a typical spent nuclear fuel pool? Would I need to dive to actually experience a fatal amount of radiation? How long could I stay safely at the surface?”
The answers that Randall Munroe provide tend to get you leaning forward, not only because they are fascinating but written in a tone and style that’s good humored: “Assuming you’re a reasonably good swimmer, you could probably survive treading water anywhere from 10 to 40 hours. At that point, you would black out from fatigue and drown. This is also true for a pool without nuclear fuel in the bottom.”
Often hilarious but always edifying, What If by Randall Munroe might just have you asking some weird questions of your own. With a ceaseless following on his website, he is sure to keep inspiring intelligent life to examine the world in unusual but funny ways.
For more Randall Munroe, check out his Ted Talks video here.
To purchase What If, click here.
By Mark Damon Puckett