Gifts 2014: ‘WHAT IF?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions’ by Randall Munroe

What-If-Randall-Munroe

Geek out this holiday season with Randall Munroe’s “WHAT IF?” This #1 New York Times Bestseller will undoubtedly make the perfect gift for the science lover, the comics lover, and the geek in your life.

Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. Now, its sister blog has been transformed into a book, “WHAT IF?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.”

“WHAT IF” is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available here, here, and here.

You can read a roundup of praise below:

“What If? maintains a delightfully free-wheeling tone throughout, especially when complicated calculations lead to whimsical results…Despite all the hard facts and gigantic numbers, it never feels like a textbook—and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to enjoy it. A” —Entertainment Weekly

“Catchy and approachable…There’s plenty of scientific rigor behind his elaborate explanations but he punctuates them with sly humor and winningly primitive cartoon diagrams…A cut above so many popular science and technology books.” –NPR.org

“Consistently fascinating and entertaining…Munroe leavens the hard science with whimsical touches…An illuminating handbook of methods of reasoning.” –Wall Street Journal

“It’s fun to watch as Munroe tackles each question and examines every possible complication with nerdy and methodical aplomb, his distinctive scribblings providing clever running commentary of peanut-gallery jokes as his train of thought (sometimes) happily derails. The delightfully demented ‘What If?’ is the most fun you can have with math and science, short of becoming your own evil genius…We feel the tug of Munroe’s playful yet existentially-tinged worldview, and all that geek logic and number-crunching becomes unexpectedly poignant.” –Boston Globe

“Munroe has hit on a wonderful form of science and engineering communication that can do so much—extolling the value of analytical thinking, examining data, and doing back-of-the-envelope calculations—while entertaining readers at the same time… an incredibly fun book with quirky, hand-drawn pictures.” —American Scientist

“Education should aim to teach people to reason confidently about problems that they have never come across before. This book is a great deal of fun, and a masterclass in such reasoning. Like all the best lessons, you only realise you’ve learned something once you’ve finished it.” –The Economist

“[What If?] has solved my annual birthday-present and holiday-gift dilemmas for a large group of people…What makes Munroe’s work so fantastic is a combination of two elements: his commitment to trying to answer even the weirdest question with solid science, and his undeniable sense of humor.” —Huffington Post

“Munroe takes inane, useless and often quite pointless questions asked by real humans (mostly sent to him through his website), and turns them into beautiful expositions on the impossible that illuminate the furthest reaches, almost to the limits, of the modern sciences..The answers are all illustrated with XKCD’s trademark stick figures…and these are eminently approachable.” —Newsweek

“What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions includes old favorites, new inquiries and the mix of expert research and accessible wit that has made Munroe a favorite among both geeks and laymen.”—TIME

“Loaded with the same dry wit and blank-faced stick figures that populate xkcd, What If? is that rare book that will have you laughing as you learn just how a mass extinction might unfold.” –Discover

“Wide-ranging and strangely poignant…This book is tons of fun…Munroe’s spiffy essays do tend to resemble the sort of lectures that cool professors give on the first day of class…It’s quality entertainment.” –Washington Independent Review of Books

“Munroe’s brilliant What-If? column—which features scientifically rigorous, utterly absurd answers to ridiculous hypotheticals—has been on the bestseller lists since it was announced in March. Today, it hits shelves and: It. Is. A. Triumph.” —BoingBoing

“What If? is a fast, engrossing read…The charm of What If? lies in the ease Munroe has jumping past intensely interesting conclusions and onto his next thought, tangent, or consequence. It’s as if Munroe is a unseen stage technician pulling back the curtain — the answers were always there, we just needed someone who knew how to show us. Even he seems surprised at what he finds.” – Nerdist

“Those who enjoyed the irreverent style of Allie Brosh’s best-selling memoir, Hyperbole and a Half, will enjoy Munroe’s serious and silly musings on everything from science to romance.” –Library Journal

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Filed under Comics, Gifts, Gifts 2014, Randall Munroe, Webcomics, xkcd

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