05 August, 2015

What if : serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions by Randall Munroe

This book delivers what I call 'firm science' - that is, physics and chemistry without all the tedious math and formulas. It is also true to label; the serious and the absurd together.

Us humans are not so good at thinking about the vast and the fantastically tiny. What if uses new units of measurement (as well as the standard ones) to describe these phenomena outside of normal human range; height in giraffes and energy in annual household consumption of electricity.

One intriguing investigation is into what would happen if we pulled the plug on the Pacific Ocean and drained the sea, another looks at eliminating the common cold virus by isolating all humans, yet another into how one person could find another on a depopulated planet. Most of these situations are impossible. All are unwise, but thinking about them is mind-play at its best!

This book is further enlivened by pertinent cartoons and footnotes, and for the keen among us there is a huge bibliography so we can check the science and investigate further.

Title :  What if : serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions
Author : Randall Munroe

Reviewed by Christine, takapuna Library

Christine has worked in libraries on the North Shore of Auckland for over 20 years.  She likes her fiction to be credible and her non-fiction to be accessible.

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