what if

Last month, Nick and I listened to What If? by Randall Munroe on audio. It was big hit in our house! Edited from Goodreads:

From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd comes this hilarious and informative book of answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask. Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity.

I originally downloaded What If? to listen to during my orchestra rehearsal commutes, but after the first answer I knew my husband would enjoy this too. The “chapters” (or rather each Q&A) are so short, it was the perfect amount to devour listening in tiny bits night by night before bed. I’m not a very science-y person, but only maybe a couple of the questions and answers went over my head (and even then, it’s probably because I dozed off and missed a sentence or two!). There are many, many stand-out questions in What If?: what if you baseball coming at you at the speed of light? What if there were a planet of moles (animal) the size of a mole? What if the periodic table were made of each of the elements it represents? What if we tried to eradicate the common cold? What if we built a lego bridge capable of carrying automobiles across the Atlantic Ocean? And more! I do feel like I perhaps missed out on some of the answers by going with audio instead of paper (the author is an comics artist, after all), but Wil Wheaton’s as-usual incredible, enthusiastic narration made the scientific explanations accessible and just plain fun to listen to. And it was extra fun listening with someone! We had some excellent discussions after some of these answers.

Listened to audiobook from December 9 to 18, 2015.

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