“Is there enough energy to move the entire current human population off-planet?”
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe is an insightful and intelligent book that takes the question “What if?” to an entirely different level. The questions range from “If two immortal people lived on opposite sides of an uninhabited Earthlike Planet, how long would it take them to find each other?”, to “What would happen to the Earth if the Sun suddenly switched off?” Munroe is a physicist whose has a background working in robotics for NASA. Now he writes a web comic called XKCD, which is chock-full of science, math, and language humor.
Munroe takes these incongruous questions about which people occasionally wonder, (but rarely try to answer for themselves), and works in the difficult math and science in order to find the answer, no matter how bizarre. He also manages to sneak in scientific wittiness, (mainly via the comics, and footnotes), while still thoroughly and effectively answering each question. Extra sections add to the dynamics of this book, such as “Weird and worrying questions from the ‘What if?’ inbox”, where Munroe posts the most disturbing questions he receives, and a short-answer section for questions that can quickly be explained.
This book is appropriate for laymen readers, and though not everyone will be familiar with each equation Munroe throws into his explanations, the main ideas will come across to readers from all walks of life. Find What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions at the library.