What if I wrote a book?

For the last couple years, I’ve been answering your science questions on What If.

Today, I’m excited to announce that the What If? book is coming!

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions will be published September 2nd by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Starting today you can pre-order it from your favorite bookseller (Barnes & NobleAmazonIndie Bound).  There are also foreign editions, including a UK and Commonwealth edition and a German edition.

As I’ve sifted through the letters submitted to What If every week, I’ve occasionally set aside particularly neat questions that I wanted to spend a little more time on. This book features my answers to those questions, along with revised and updated versions of some of my favorite articles from the site. (I’m also including my personal list of the weirdest questions people have submitted.)

Preorder today to get a copy as soon as it comes out!

1,119 thoughts on “What if I wrote a book?

  1. assuming there are more than a few pre-orders, at what point do you estimate the height of the combined ordered books will reach a poignant or noteworthy altitude?

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  2. Regarding the popup footnotes available in the online xkcd, Shirley that could be done in the e-book version. In print, you have obvious limitations. I’m hoping that those printed footnotes are on the same page as the column that contains them. I hate having to page ahead to an appendix, find the right “chapter,” read the footnote, and then page back to resume reading.

    Either that, or print the popup footnotes in invisible ink, and include a lemon juice felt-tip with each book.

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  3. But…but…I am still working on solving all the hidden messages in the first book! Assuming the same kind of see-what-i-did-there humor is an element of this new book as well, please allow people to purchase a teachers edition with all the answers.

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  4. @Heimhenge: What if he made the book a POP-UP book? Then he could add the computer pop-ups as actual pop-ups in the paper book? Problem solved! :-)

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  5. I love your site and look in every tuesday. Have you considered pitching a TV series on Science Network? Your concept would challenge MythBusters and Incredible Acts of Science.
    Good Luck
    Roland

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  6. Say, back to the “sign my book” comment… Can you? Will you hold local sessions for autographs? I lived in RI for over 30 years and my college buddies still live in Somerville. Can they stalk you for an autograph and a doodle? I’d certainly pay extra for a numbered special edition, especially if you have velociraptors attacking the big blue bug :D

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  7. Does the UK and Commonwealth edition have proper English spelling of “metre”?

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  8. @Russ

    If the UK and Commonwealth edition has proper English spelling of “metre”, then it’ll be spelt “three feet, three and three eighths inches”.

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  9. This site is very great and indispensable to my thank you to expect continued success with the authorities there are millions of people come easy memlunkalan but I guess I did not bring the language

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  10. I read the comic you did on negging and what you think of those people. I am not that person and never will be, i find your uninformed hatefulness deeply hurtful and i ask you to go die in a fire.

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  11. This is a nice content with lots of information. It’s a very excellent idea for raising money for charity. I think honest review is more important for authors. I like your whole discussion. Keep it up.

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  12. Just don’t touch politics religion and Sexuality make it kid friendly and may I suggast an app or write a book and sell the rights to scrabblenuts they could make a whole game after that book! It would sell like candy.
    You have a gift but you won’t be credited for it until some fat guy take credit for it.
    Fat guy is a metaphor ofc

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  13. What if you took the advice of all these people? Would that actually make a stalked billionaire that’s on fire?

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  14. Preordered.
    There’s one thing I wanted to know.
    > git diff master..UKCommonwealthEdition

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  15. OK, so did anyone figure what’s going on with that Lorenz cartoon (#1350)? I can’t imagine it was just a blunder by Munroe. All I can figure out is maybe it’s a play on the Lorentz contraction with the name “contracted” by one letter and the cartoon contracted to zero dimensions. I mean, the content DOES arrive at the speed of light.

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  16. @ Heimhenge Edward Norton Lorenz was the first person to use the term “butterfly effect.” The choice you make in the first panel drastically changes the outcome of the comic.

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  17. Oh … that Lorenz. Found the thread on that comic in the fora and read more about it. Unfortunately, won’t run in Firefox 12. Guess I’ll need to boot my XP box and see if it works on other browsers (running a W2K box for most stuff). Yeah, I know, not the best OS these days, but it keeps my legacy software running w/o expensive upgrades. Thanks Frosty.

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  18. I’ve had a horrible realization. How will we be able to read the alt/title text on paper ? (Or even on e-readers for that matter)

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  19. Will the book included the rollover text from the pictures on the website?

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  20. Just want to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in
    your post is simply great and i could assume you are an expert on tbis subject.
    Well with your permission let me to grab your
    feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please
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  21. Well I wrote a book and you didn’t buy mine (I know cos nobody did).

    Why should I buy yours? Just cos it’s funnier and better written and illustrated and

    Oh! Alright then.

    (I’m sure that Captcha number full of sixes is going to materialise the devil. I won’t buy your book if it does.)

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  22. Yay, a German version! How large is the fraction of German readers on your side compared to the German population?

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  23. Just ordered a copy and left a nerd snipe in the what-if question box :P

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  24. “The new xkcd phone isn’t “actual size”. Unacceptable.”

    You just need a bigger screen.

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  25. Thanks (to you ro your publisher) for making the pre-order available in iBooks. Hoping it’s a great success in all formats.

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  26. I’m trying to pre order on amazon and it won’t allow it to be shipped to Australia is there a reason for this/will it be changed?

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  27. I just saw this. Awesome. Will there be a kindle release for the german translation as well?

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