Read: December 2020

Inspiration: Ran into on Amazon’s bestseller list; also had a coffee table book by Randall Munroe called “Thing Explainer”


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“What If?”, published in 2014 by author and webcomic Randall Munroe, is a collection of science-based answers to hypothetical questions submitted by readers of the xkcd website. Many of the questions are absurd or whimsical, but Munroe uses scientific principles and research to provide serious, informative, and often humorous responses. Some examples of the questions addressed in the book include: “What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?” and “Could you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?” The book also includes illustrations and infographics to help explain the concepts discussed. Overall, “What If?” is a fun and educational look at the science behind some of the most bizarre and imaginative scenarios imaginable.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

Spent fuel from nuclear reactors stored in pool for a couple decades until inert enough to move into dry casks (need to figure out where to put dry casks soon), before Pangea there was Rodinia (a billion years ago), most powerful laser at National Ignition Facility (UV laser of 500 terrawatts for nanoseconds), flourine is most reactive element (catch fire with anything pure fluorine come in contact with), all people on Earth get together fit in Rhode Island basically—if all jump together do nothing cuz earth outweighs us by factor of 10 trillion (push down earth by less than atom width), heat flow analyses show if unused charger plugged in but not warm then using penny of power per year, battery powered bell at Claredon Lab at Oxford ringing since 1840, Death Zone at 8000 meters in the air where oxygen to low for life, ocean colder than space—space very hot bc temp is avg kinetic energy of molecules but molecules so spaced out (space seems cold thus, but hot bc no air in space to conduct heat so builds up in spacecraft, Virginia is state with most flyovers b/c of hartsfield ATL airport and toronto airport to carribbean and south america, supernova seen as far away as sun from earth is nine orders of magnitude brighter than hydrogen bomb pressed against eyeball by energy to retina, getting to space is easy but staying is hard bc have to go sideways really fast to stay in orbit and not fall back, ISS orbits earth every 90 minutes, 250,000 2×2 lego bricks to collapse on top of each other, 1859 massive solar flare storm destroy telegraph wires and if happened today would cause several trillion in damage bc more wires, with Britains 14 terrorities sun never technically set on British empire still, richter scale is open ended (but 2 magnitude 9+ this century altered length of day tiny bit), can have negativr magnitude earthquake (-1=football player run into tree in your yard, -2=cat fall off dresser, -3=cat knock phone off nightstand, -4=penny fall off dog, -6=keyboard press, -7=feather flutter to ground

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