You know that web comic XKCD? It’s funny. And the guy who writes it, one Randall Munroe, is a pretty bright dude. So bright, in fact that people have taken to asking him all kinds of crazy sciency-physics-type questions just so they can hear his answers, which are serious, but only in a cartoon kind of way.
Munroe has collected some of his favorite questions in a book called What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. And true to the title, it is serious, absurd, and pretty funny.
The best questions are the ones that you and I both know you’ve wondered about yourself (like, could you make a jetpack out of downward-firing machine guns? and, how long before there are more dead people than live people on Facebook?) But there are also lots of compelling and interesting questions that I never would’ve thought of in a million years, like what if all the water from a rainstorm fell as one giant drop? (Short answer: bad things.)
It’s a fun, easy read, and best of all, I felt like I was a little bit smarter after I read it. Not something you can say for every book that’s illustrated with stick figures.