From what height would you need to drop a steak in order for it to be cooked when it hit the ground?
When, if ever, will Facebook contain more profiles of dead people than of living ones?
In the movie 300 they shoot arrows up into the sky and they seemingly blot out the sun. Is this possible, and how many arrows would it take?
In his book What If?, Randall Munroe answers these and many other “impossible” questions. Some of the entries are from the “What if?” section of Munroe’s entertaining webcomic, xkcd, with the edition of many new questions and answers. The questions are intriguing and the answers are witty and filled with entertaining stick-figure drawings and infographics. By using computer simulations, solving equations, and consultations with experts, the author offers his educated predictions for these hypothetical situations. This is a must-read for the math and science geek, but also really interesting for the average lay person to ponder.
By the way, the answer to the first question is: Nothing at all would happen to Earth’s orbit, but with the world’s population all gathered in a small space, cell networks would soon collapse under the load, grocery stores would be empty with fresh water hard to come by. Traffic jams, violence, and chaos would prevail, and within weeks most of us would perish.
What If? is definitely food for thought.