How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems

Riverhead. Sept. 2019. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9780525537090. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780525537106. SCI
Munroe (creator of the webcomic xkcd; What If??; Thing Explainer) creates another fun series of questions and answers that explore forces, properties, and natural phenomena through pop-culture scenarios. This professed book of “bad ideas” aims to encourage readers to reach for revolutionary ideas by considering unusual and fun approaches. Calculating how thick a wall of cheese would need to be to support an above-ground pool leads to a discussion of nuclear weapons testing and the engineering disaster that formed California’s Salton Sea. There are instructions on how to ski, examine the friction of wax, limits of speed skiing, and the fastest way to make snow. Guest contributors, such as astronaut Chris Hadfield and tennis star Serena Williams, offer expertise on how to hit targets and make emergency landings.
VERDICT With illustrated formulas that humorously explain the science behind Munroe’s conjectures, this book is sure to entertain and educate thinkers from high school on up.
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