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Cartoon Answers to "Absurd Hypothetical Questions" [Slide Show]

Artist Randall Munroe, creator of the xkcd Web comic, uses cartoons and science to answer reader questions

By Randall Munroe

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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Artist Randall Munroe’s new book What If? answers hypothetical science questions submitted by readers of his xkcd web comic. Here are a selection of questions and comic answers from the book, out September 2.....[ More ]

What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?

Normally, air would flow around anything moving through it.....[ More ]

What if everyone actually had only one soul mate, a random person somewhere in the world?

The odds of running into your soul mate are incredibly small. Let’s suppose you lock eyes with an average of a few dozen new strangers each day. If 10% of them are close to your age, that’s around 50,000 people in a lifetime.....[ More ]

What if everyone actually had only one soul mate, a random person somewhere in the world? [cont.]

With the threat of dying alone looming so imminently, society could restructure to try to enable as much eye contact as possible. We could put together massive conveyer belts to move lines of people past each other.....[ More ]

When (if ever) did the Sun finally set on the British Empire?

The British Empire spanned the globe. This led to the saying that the Sun never set on it, since it was always daytime somewhere in the Empire. Britain has fourteen overseas territories, the direct remnants of the British Empire.....[ More ]

When (if ever) did the Sun finally set on the British Empire? [cont.]

However, if the UK loses one tiny territory, it will experience its first Empire-wide sunset in over two centuries.....[ More ]

If an asteroid was very small but supermassive, could you really live on it like the Little Prince?If an asteroid was very small but supermassive, could you really live on it like the Little Prince?

The Little Prince , by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is a story about a traveler from a distant asteroid. If there really were a superdense asteroid with enough surface gravity to walk around on, it would have some pretty surprising properties. 

If the asteroid has a radius of 1.75 meters, then in order to have Earth-like gravity at the surface, it would need to have a mass of about 500 million tons.....[ More ]

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