New Feed Fodder: What If? from Randall Munroe

Recently, Randall Munroe, nerd icon and xkcd creator, started What If? a Q&A site of sorts. In his own words:

I get a lot of strange hypothetical science questions in my email. People get in debates with their friends – stuff like “what would happen if someone threw a baseball at nearly the speed of light?” or “how many velociraptors would it take to kill <fictional creature>” – and for whatever reason, they decide to email me about it. Puzzling over these questions is a lot of fun, and so I’ve decided to set up a blog to collect and try to answer them.

I think we’ve all been there, debating some odd, minute point about this or that nerdy pursuit, throwing all our brainpower and trivial knowledge at an argument while our well-adjusted friends and spouses roll their eyes and smile at each other knowingly.

Oh, is that just my life?

Nerds love to win arguments, especially about nerdy topics, and now there’s a blog for that.

Randall’s answers are quite thorough and probably accurate enough to make the point. I haven’t checked his math or science, but this is a guy who has a pantheon of nerd knowledge. So, if he says a robot apocalypse would end quickly because:

. . . the robots would all break down or get stuck against walls. Robots never, ever work right.

I’m inclined to believe him. Maybe not the answer you were hoping for, but delivered with the appropriate amount of tongue-in-cheek humor and hard facts, e.g. re. military drones:

Much of our fleet would be left helplessly bumping against hangar doors like Roombas stuck in a closet.

So, if you like xkcd, you’ll enjoy What If? Answering your hypothetical questions with physics, every Tuesday.





  1. Good stuff. I didn’t change any settings for HTML tags, but maybe Disqus did. This might be better, since before, I couldn’t tell when you posted links. Colors were too similar, and yeah, I could CSS, but meh.

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