… what would happen if we all pointed lasers at the moon, or everyone on the earth went to the same place and jumped at the same time, or how to make a jetpack out of machine guns? Randall Munroe explains the results of all of those situations and many more in What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. Real-world scientific principles are used to explain the (probable) outcomes of a wide variety of questions related to physics, chemistry, meteorology, and more. They’re livened up by Mr. Munroe’s wicked sense of humor and deceptively-simplistic cartoons.
In fact, “serious scientific answers” may be overstating the case just a bit. For example, in the question about everyone jumping in the same place at the same time, the basic answer is that it has very little effect on the Earth. However, Mr. Munroe goes on to examine the issues that would be caused by having the entire population of the planet gathered in one location, including the quick collapse of civilization as we know it. Ok, that does sound pretty serious, but the way he describes it is incredibly funny. You really need to read this one to understand it!
Reviewed by Fran (staff)