By Randall Munroe
Category: Non-fiction, Science
What would happen if I assembled a periodic table with bricks and each brick was made of the corresponding element? From what height do I need to drop a steak for it to be cooked by the time it reaches the ground? If everyone on Earth disappeared, how long would it be before the last man-made light source went out?
If you’re a person like me, who’s intrigued by science you probably found the above questions to be interesting, albeit slightly strange. That was my reaction when I started reading this book. However, once I had begun reading, I was hooked. The questions given in this book have all been submitted by the author’s fans and are all purely hypothetical. Most of these questions sound silly when you read them for the first time and you think “Why would something like that even happen?”
However, the most impressive aspect of the book is that Randall Munroe manages to give a smart, concise and scientific answer to all of them and that’s what makes this book so interesting. He includes cartoons and funny little footnotes alongside his answers to provide comic relief and to make sure that the reading doesn’t become too monotonous. Another remarkable feature of this book is that the answers do not get too technical. Anyone familiar with simple high school science will be able to understand this book.
The book also contains a section wherein the author reveals some worrisome questions he has received in his inbox. Each time, he makes fun of the sender and includes a cartoon below the question.
The book doesn’t seem to have any sort of organization whatsoever. The questions covered come from a wide variety of topics and there doesn’t seem to be any specific pattern in how they are arranged. Randall Munroe’s style in the book is quite informal, as though he was talking to a friend instead of writing a book on science. The language is simple, clear and easily understandable which I found surprising, given that Munroe used to work at NASA and you’d expect someone like him to use really big and complicated words.
In conclusion, I think this is one of the better books I’ve read on hypothetical science. Proper scientific explanations have been given in all places, and there wasn’t a moment when I felt bored while reading it. I’d give it an easy 4.5/5 and would definitely recommend it to anyone who has an interest in science.