Book Review: What If? (Sept 2015)

What If? by Randall Munroe is a book which, as the subtitle says, tries to find serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions. The questions it poses come from ones that the author has been asked on the What If? section of his website, and many are exactly the type of question a curious eleven year old might ask, leaving you flummoxed as you try to come up with an answer. Example questions include How quickly would the oceans drain if a circular portal 10 metres in radius leading into space were created at the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the ocean? (page 204), How much Force can Yoda output? (page 143), and What would happen if lightning struck a bullet in midair? (page 93). The answers provided to these, and many other questions, are honest, scientifically exact (well, as scientifically exact as the answers to such questions can be) and thought-provoking, and it’s very likely that your child (and you!) will learn something new when reading each and every one of them.

Basic Book Information: ISBN: 978-1848549562; Date of Publication: September 2015; Recommended Retail Price (RRP): £8.99 (paperback)/US$24.00 (hardback); Number of pages: 320. To purchase in the UK, click here. To purchase in the USA, click here.

What Age Of Child Is It Aimed At? While written as a popular science book for adults, this book will also appeal to children aged around eleven and older, especially if they are into science and asking bizarre hypothetical questions!

How Long Will It Take To Read? While this book would take many hours to read from cover to cover, it’s written in such a way that you can dip in and out of it, reading the answers to any questions that catch your eye. For younger children, you might want to sit down and read it with them (because they will have questions!), but older children will happily read it on their own

What I Like About This Book? I like this book because it takes what children do so naturally (ask unexpected questions), and uses scientific principles and knowledge to provide answers. Not only are these informative and educational (although this is very much a by-product rather than an intention), but it demonstrates to the reader exactly how science can be used to answer almost any question that can be thought up about the world (or indeed the whole universe). As a result, it’s a great way to introduce children to exactly how powerful a scientific approach to answering questions can be, and it will encourage them to consider using this approach themselves. It also provides the perfect starting point for discussions on how children can start working out answers to their own questions using scientific knowledge and critical thinking. This is a habit that, once ingrained in your child, will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

What Core Life Skills Will It Help Develop? This book will help develop an understanding of science, critical thinking, problem-solving, and a knowledge of how the world around them works. It will also encourage them to come up with their own questions  which they can try to answer for themselves using a similar science-based approach.

Are There Other Books By The Same Author? Yes. Randall Munroe is also the author of Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words in which he explains how everyday things work using nothing more than drawings and the one thousand most commonly used words in the English language. To purchase this book in the UK, click here. To purchase this book in the US, click here.

Links To Purchase This Book

To Purchase In The UK

To purchase this book in the UK, click here, or on the image below.

To Purchase In The USA

To purchase this book in the USA, click here, or on the image below.

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About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.

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