What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe, best known for his web comic XKCD, which covers everything from advanced mathematics to romance and Internet memes, is a hilarious, subversively intelligent book that more than lives up to its title and was almost impossible for me to put down. Beautifully illustrated, with the author’s trademark stick figures and infographics, What If? answers such important questions as “What would happen if you pitch a baseball at 99% the speed of light (hint: explosions), “If everybody in the US drove west, could we temporarily halt continental drift?”, and “Could a person walk the entire city of NY in their lifetime? (including inside apartments)?” (hint: you could, but the prison sentence for trespassing would be a bit of a pain).
As a bit of a geek, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it for the lighthearted scientists in your life. Or those slightly odd friends, whom everyone looks at askance when they wonder aloud whether Yoda could use his Force powers to generate electricity.