Monday, February 20, 2023

REVIEW: What If? 2: Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (nonfiction book) by Randall Munroe

What If? 2 is a blend of science/math and humor. I bought my copy new.


If you liked the first What If? volume, you'll probably enjoy this one. Randall Munroe once again tackles a variety of questions in as scientific a way as possible. This occasionally (often?) means he has to make some assumptions so that the questions are answerable, and his assumptions might not always gel with what the person who asked the question intended. But hey, it's entertaining.

Some of the questions were more math problems than "what if?" scientific thought experiments - for example, the one about how many pages a person would have to read in order to read all of the laws that apply to them, or the one asking at what point in history there were too many English-language books to read in one lifetime. My favorite questions were the true "what ifs," the ones that involved fundamental changes to the world, the universe, or time itself. The more horrifically destructive the results, the better. (Bring on the candy rain and neverending dogs!)

I started reading this while I was sick, assuming that the explanations would help me drift off to sleep. Instead, I found this book to be entertaining in a way that was absolutely perfect for my exhausted and congested self. Many of the chapters told little stories about worlds or universes in which something had gone horribly awry, which was great fun to read about. At the same time, Munroe wasn't asking me to keep track of characters or plots, everything came with amusing pictures, and each chapter was relatively short. I could easily read a chapter or two and then decide it was time to nap for a few hours. True, I couldn't always follow the science, but I can't guarantee that I'd have been able to follow it even if I'd been healthy.

If I remember right, I listened to the audio version of the first What If? book. I recall enjoying it, but, what with the illustrations, it'd probably have been better to read it than listen to it. My enjoyment of this volume is making me consider going back and reading a paper copy of the first book.

No comments:

Post a Comment