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What If?

Where science and pop culture collide


Science is no longer the domain of nerds—it's a part of popular culture.

Randall Munroe, creator of the popular webcomic xkcd, is hip to the trend and a smart guy to boot (he was a NASA roboticist and has a meteor named after him). He shows off both his science chops and artistic talent in the 2014 No. 1 New York Times Bestseller What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.

The book lives up to its title, with questions (all submitted by readers of xkcd) such as:

"Is it possible to build a jetpack using downward firing machine guns?" and "If you call a random phone number and say 'God bless you,' what are the chances that the person who answers just sneezed?"

Munroe takes them deadly serious, often devoting upwards of 10 pages to explaining the unexplainable. Of course, the whole thing is lovingly illustrated in that inimitable xkcd style.

That this book is awesome is no theory, it's a scientific fact.