Very much enjoyed the quirky book du jour What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, which is drawn from the blog xkcd, by cartoonist and scientist Randall Munroe. It is pretty simple but deeply pleasurable: people write in with their silly but fascinating questions and Munroe gives you the actual answer. Suspending all laws of any known science to allow the thing to happen and then applying those laws again makes for interesting and surprising reading:
How fast can you hit a speed bump, driving, and live? When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British Empire? What would happen if all the people in the world got as close together as possible and all jumped at the same time? When will Facebook contain more profiles of dead people than living? How many humans would a T Rex rampaging through New York need to eat a day? If the answer is quite simple, he ups the weirdness quotient of the question and stretches the hypothesis further. Exciting and funny, inspiring and humane, this is an excellent read for anyone who wonders about such things when falling to sleep at night, or stuck at the lights, or noodling about with your curious friends à la The Big Bang, trying to outdo each others’ outrageous hypotheses.