In What If?, Randall Munroe gathered absurd questions and answered them at the greatest heights that serious scientific rigor would allow. Now, in How To, he flips the formula and takes serious real-world tasks and ponders the most absurd (and yet still scientifically rigorous) processes to complete them. Many solutions cross-reference each other ("How to Fill a Pool" tells you that first you'll need an empty pool to fill and directs you to "How to Dig a Hole"), and a few reference What If?, to the point of one even directing you to a web address for one that wasn't in the print edition. This makes for delightful reading and flipping back and forth - the closest I've come to falling down a Wikipedia hole in print media in a long time. I'd expect nothing less from Munroe.
AN INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER “How To will make you laugh as you learn…With How To, you can't help but appreciate the glorious complexity of our universe and the amazing breadth of humanity's effort to comprehend it. If you want some lightweight edification, you won't go wrong with How To.” —CNET “[How To] has science and jokes in it, so 10/10 can recommend.”—Simone Giertz The world's most entertaining and useless self-help guide from the brilliant mind behind the wildly popular webcomic xkcd and the bestsellers What If? and Thing Explainer
For any task you might want to do, there's a right way, a wrong way, and a way so monumentally complex, excessive, and inadvisable that no one would ever try it. How To is a guide to the third kind of approach. It's full of highly impractical advice for everything from landing a plane to digging a hole.
Bestselling author and cartoonist Randall Munroe explains how to predict the weather by analyzing the pixels of your Facebook photos. He teaches you how to tell if you're a baby boomer or a 90's kid by measuring the radioactivity of your teeth. He offers tips for taking a selfie with a telescope, crossing a river by boiling it, and powering your house by destroying the fabric of space-time. And if you want to get rid of the book once you're done with it, he walks you through your options for proper disposal, including dissolving it in the ocean, converting it to a vapor, using tectonic plates to subduct it into the Earth's mantle, or launching it into the Sun.
By exploring the most complicated ways to do simple tasks, Munroe doesn't just make things difficult for himself and his readers. As he did so brilliantly in What If?, Munroe invites us to explore the most absurd reaches of the possible. Full of clever infographics and fun illustrations, How To is a delightfully mind-bending way to better understand the science and technology underlying the things we do every day.
About the Author
Randall Munroe is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers What If? and Thing Explainer, the science question-and-answer blog What If, and the popular webcomic xkcd. A former NASA roboticist, he left the agency in 2006 to draw comics on the internet full-time. He lives in Massachusetts.
“The creator of the popular, extremely excellent and not a little nerdy webcomic ‘xkcd’ cleverly illustrates a guide of complicated solutions to simple tasks, thinking up Rube Goldbergian solutions to tasks as common as digging a hole.” —USA Today
“The mind behind the webcomic xkcd provides a slew of hilariously overcomplicated instructions for everything from throwing a pool party to winning an election, bringing his signature stick figures – and his singular wit – along for the ride. How To is a loving testament to the power of the human brain to take things to absurd lengths.” —Glen Weldon, NPR
“[How To] tackles problems from the mundane—such as how to move to a new house—to those that may trouble a mad scientist building her first lava moat. The solutions are often hilariously, and purposefully, absurd. Embedded in these solutions, however, is solid scientific, engineering, and experimental understanding . . . [for] anyone who appreciates science-based, but Rube Goldberg–esque, solutions to life’s problems.” —Science Magazine
“How To is a pure delight, a salty-sweet mixture of hard science and bonkers whimsy.” —BoingBoing
“A brilliant provocation of a book: clamber in for a wild ride.” —Nature
“A witty, educational examination of ‘unusual approaches to common tasks’ . . . generously laced with dry humor . . . Munroe’s comic stick-figure art is an added bonus. . . . Apart from generating laughter, the book also manages to achieve his serious objective: to get his audience thinking.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“An enjoyable treat for fans of logic puzzles, brain hacking, kaizen, mad science, and other forms of mental stimulation.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Munroe (creator of the webcomic xkcd; What If?; Thing Explainer) creates another fun series of questions and answers that explore forces, properties, and natural phenomena through pop-culture scenarios . . . With illustrated formulas that humorously explain the science behind Munroe’s conjectures, this book is sure to entertain and educate thinkers from high school on up.” —Library Journal
“How To is a gleefully nerdy hypothetical instruction book for armchair scientists of all ages.” —Booklist