What If? Reviewed by Nina Vigil, 11

Book Reviews  /   /  By Nina Vigil
Stone Soup Magazine
May 2019

Who here likes completely serious and scientific answers to weird and crazy hypothetical questions? Who here also likes comics? For those of you who like both (like me) What If? by Randall Munroe, a cartoonist and former roboticist at NASA, is the book for you!

The book explores several questions submitted to Munroe’s website and gives the hilarious answers to each. For example: ‘What would happen if everyone on Earth stood as close to each other as they could and jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same instant?’ Here’s some more – ‘From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground?’ ‘What would happen if you made a periodic table out of cube-shaped bricks, where each brick was made of the corresponding element?’ ‘How many Lego bricks would it take to build a bridge capable of carrying traffic from London to New York?’

There are comics to go with each question, depicting scenes that help explain the answer or elaborate on it. The answers come with footnotes, many of which are amusing comments. And there are sections for some of the questions that got submitted but weren’t answered – specifically, the extra weird and super bizarre ones. (Obviously, there are comics to go with that, too.)

This book is such a great one in part because the author takes these questions seriously. He actually writes logical answers to them in full detail and doesn’t just dismiss them as silly, harebrained kid questions like a lot of adults would do. What If? makes topics such as physics and math as interesting as possible and very funny.

For the science lovers, What If? is right up your alley. I would also recommend this book for anyone who has ever wondered about something kind of strange sounding and isn’t sure where to find an answer. Go to the library or the bookstore and get this book. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books, 2014. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!

Have you read this book? Or do you plan on reading it? Let us know in the comments below!

Nina Vigil
About the Author

Nina Vigil is a young writer from New York. In addition to writing and reading, she loves science, cats, redwood trees and roller coasters.

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