Book Review: What If? 2

What If? 2 by Randall Munroe

I suggest it’s best to read through Randall Munroe’s latest collection of “serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions” slowly, allowing the questions and the answers, and the funny comic illustrated quips, to settle in with you in his latest book, entitled What If? 2.

The science is deep (he worked for NASA as a roboticist, and he knows his science) but so is the funny, and if you know Munroe’s distinct style from either his XKCD comics or his other books, you know he balances the deep science and math thinking with an incredible array of bizarre ideas, in this case, generated by his readers. (The first What If? book was great, too, as are his other collections.)

The questions from kids here are the best, such as the opener here from a five year old: What would happen if the Solar System was filled with soup? Near the end, another question from a seven year old: How many snowflakes would it take to cover the world in six feet of snow? Munroe answers those questions and dozens more, too, and all are entertaining and interesting and educational.

His writing style and writing voice is something intriguing — he certainly knows his science but his ability to add the comic aside while celebrating the question (for the most part) is very effective. His signature stick people doodles show how far you can go with stick figures, too, and each answer has its collection of small comics that will leave you chuckling while also thinking.

Peace (and questions to ponder),

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