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Book Review: What If?

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Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
by Randall Munroe
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014

Former nasa roboticist Munroe has gained a cult following for his witty science-themed Web comic xkcd. Here, with drawings, math and logical reasoning, he answers strange and intriguing questions submitted by online readers, such as “If someone's DNA suddenly vanished, how long would that person last?” and “How many Lego bricks would it take to build a bridge capable of carrying traffic from London to New York?” The answers are often surprising—for example, you could buy all the property in London and ship it, piece by piece, to New York for less than the cost of such a bridge, Munroe calculates. Some questions deemed too “weird” to answer still get amusing comic responses, such as “Could you survive a tidal wave by submerging yourself in an in-ground pool?” and “What if I swallow a tick that has Lyme disease?”

This article was originally published with the title "What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions."

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