The "What-If?" Book

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Plumbob
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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Plumbob » Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:41 pm UTC

I actually received my copy in the mail yesterday. I work in a library, so I decided to go in for a bit today just to cover the outside jacket with a plastic dust cover.

It makes dust jackets more bearable, at least.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby PinkShinyRose » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:12 pm UTC

Does anyone have both the US and the UK edition to compare?

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby SDK » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:34 pm UTC

Xenomortis wrote:I don't remember the exact text, but in the preface to the UK edition, Randall notes that we get better gas milage because our gallons are different.
That is, a mile per gallon is better here than in the States.
But the opposite is true; our gallon is about 25% greater than yours.

And because your gallon is bigger you're able to go more miles on a single gallon of gas, AKA, more miles per gallon!

They pull this in Canada too, using the British gallon instead of the American to make their fuel economy seem better.

PS: I should probably buy this book.
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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby akkornel » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:56 pm UTC

I'm wondering, will the Kindle edition be added to Amazon's Kindle Matchbook program? It would allow everyone who bought the hardcover edition on Amazon to get the Kindle edition at a discounted price.

In my case, it was a gossip between getting the hardcover and getting the Kindle edition. I eventually went with the hardcover because I wanted something to hold, and I also wasn't sure if the book would have any hidden stuff that wouldn't translate to Kindle as well (for example, the contest hidden in Ready Player One). The downside is, the book is a substantial item, which makes it difficult for me to take with me on the bus. Having the book be part of the Matchbook program would make the buying decision much easier!

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby CharonPDX » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:36 pm UTC

SDK wrote:They pull this in Canada too, using the British gallon instead of the American to make their fuel economy seem better.


Canada normally measures in "L/100km" or "Liters of fuel used per 100 kilometers driven" - where a LOWER number is better. But the labels do still have old-fashioned MPG (using British Gallon) on them, in addition to L/100Km. The Canadian Prius is fun because you can achieve a "perfect 0" on it, whereas the American Prius caps out at 100 MPG, so you don't know how well you're actually doing above 100.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:17 am UTC

Nickolas wrote:In the original quote, "If you like it, then you should've put a ring on it," both instances of "it" sensibly refer to the same thing, namely the narrator (synechdochically through her finger.) It's catchy and easy to understand. Randall's version muddles things by having two instances of "it" that confusingly refer to different entities. The first "it" ("If you liked it") refers to the depicted planet, presumably Earth. The second "it" ("then you should have moved a mass inside its Roche limit") refers to a smaller orbiting body that breaks up into a ring due to tidal forces.


Randall's version also introduces a second potential referent, which is then, correctly, the referent for the "it" that follows.

Also, the concept of an orbiting body's Roche limit only applies to that body orbiting the specific primary, and the same Roche limit applies to all (rigid) satellites with the same density orbiting the same primary. With the Roche limit only varying as the inverse cube root of the density of the mass, you can get a reasonably good approximation for practical purposes by assuming all satellites will have the same standard density, in which case your standard Roche limit would be a property of the primary, not the satellite.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Kalabalik » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:08 pm UTC

What units does the US edition use for temperature, weight, length and volume? Metric and/or SI? Fahrenheit, ounces, and feet? What about UK/Commonwealth edition? Any owner care to comment?

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Yakk » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:21 pm UTC

CharonPDX wrote:
SDK wrote:They pull this in Canada too, using the British gallon instead of the American to make their fuel economy seem better.


Canada normally measures in "L/100km" or "Liters of fuel used per 100 kilometers driven" - where a LOWER number is better. But the labels do still have old-fashioned MPG (using British Gallon) on them, in addition to L/100Km. The Canadian Prius is fun because you can achieve a "perfect 0" on it, whereas the American Prius caps out at 100 MPG, so you don't know how well you're actually doing above 100.

L/100 km is also neat in that it is a unit of area, namely the cross-section of an imaginary stream of gasoline your car sweeps out in order to drive a given distance.
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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Hymi » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:29 pm UTC

I just wanted to tell you that when I got your book in the mail today that I was really impressed. Thankyou for all the enjoyment of your comic.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:55 am UTC

Yakk wrote:
CharonPDX wrote:
SDK wrote:They pull this in Canada too, using the British gallon instead of the American to make their fuel economy seem better.


Canada normally measures in "L/100km" or "Liters of fuel used per 100 kilometers driven" - where a LOWER number is better. But the labels do still have old-fashioned MPG (using British Gallon) on them, in addition to L/100Km. The Canadian Prius is fun because you can achieve a "perfect 0" on it, whereas the American Prius caps out at 100 MPG, so you don't know how well you're actually doing above 100.

L/100 km is also neat in that it is a unit of area, namely the cross-section of an imaginary stream of gasoline your car sweeps out in order to drive a given distance.


That area being 0.1 mm x 0.1 mm = 0.01 mm² or a picohectare. :) Weirdly, my posts on this topic seem to occur around this time of the year...

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby cellocgw » Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:21 am UTC

mathmannix wrote:If you need a good editing team, just ask the internet. We're always happy to fix makeyour mistakes even worse .



FTFY (hey, you knew that would happen)


What-if there was a "What-If" about the "What-If Book" ?
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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Jatopian » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:27 am UTC

Hm, that's disappointing. I was going to put this book on my xmas list, but I think I will wait for a second version with corrections. Still definitely want to get it after that, though!

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby arrowinflight » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:01 am UTC

I was wondering if anyone figured out what Randall ment on page 234 when he said "There is a 1/ 1,000,000,000 chance the person you just called murder someone". Does he mean like in the last 15 minutes or the last week? Also in another typo, in the foot notes on page 234- he says a rate of 4/100,000 (also an extra comma, come on editors) but doesn't say a time. Am I wrong in assuming rate implies a time unit? Because there is a large difference between 4/100,000/year and 4/100,000/sec.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby teelo » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:52 pm UTC

Is Randall using the book launch as an excuse not to post a what-if this week?

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Heimhenge » Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:26 pm UTC

Yeah, I've been noticing the late What If posts, but was willing to cut Randall some slack, figuring he was busy with the book promotion etc. Hope he can get back on schedule soon. I need my weekly XKCD fix and look forward to it during my morning coffee.

Regarding his appearance on Colbert ... I never really liked Colbert. It's rare for Colbert to show any respect to interviewees. Randall had to know what he was getting into when he accepted that interview. Colbert is obviously not an XKCD reader judging from his comments/questions. Colbert's closing "correction" about whether Randall should be talking about "force" instead of "energy" is indicative of his ignorance of the topic at hand.

Let's not forget that the "interviews" on Colbert are less about the interviewee, and more about Colbert's shtick.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby omgryebread » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:57 am UTC

I just got mine, and it's great and all, nothing to report, I'm too dumb to notice mistakes, but I did want to chime in about the UK vs US version.

It's called a co-edition and it's really just a matter of logistics and business. For one, exporting/importing books is really dumb. They're cheap to print, require very little labor, and are heavy. So it's much cheaper to print them on the continent you sell them. Also, publishers aren't usually multinational corporations. The Big Six (Big Five now, I guess, since Random House and Penguin merged into Penguin Random House, wasting the opportunity to become Penguin House) have international distribution, but HMH isn't one of them, and doesn't have a distribution network in the UK. So either HMH or Randall sold the rights to John Murray (Randall is on the same imprint as Jane Austen! Awesome!)

Because it's a different publisher, it counts as a different edition, with a different ISBN. Depending on the contract, John Murray had some control over the edition there. They may well have changed the units, but I sort of doubt it. Having different versions certainly isn't an indication of other differences.
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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Sep 12, 2014 4:15 am UTC

Heimhenge wrote:Colbert's closing "correction" about whether Randall should be talking about "force" instead of "energy" is indicative of his ignorance of the topic at hand.

I had no idea that this interview existed, but I just went and watched it (and rather liked it, more for Randall's responses than Colbert's usual schtick). Colbert's closing "correction" is very obviously a joke, since the topic at hand is freaking YODA LIFTING AN X-WING WITH THE FORCE.
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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Jonathan589 » Fri Sep 12, 2014 2:41 pm UTC

I've never noticed an explanation for the What-if logo, so I've always assumed it represented a question of "What might happen if you attempted to feed a T Rex to a sarlacc?" Forget the practicality of doing it, what if you did? It was great to see Randall's answer on the book jacket.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Klear » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:21 pm UTC

Jonathan589 wrote:I've never noticed an explanation for the What-if logo, so I've always assumed it represented a question of "What might happen if you attempted to feed a T Rex to a sarlacc?" Forget the practicality of doing it, what if you did? It was great to see Randall's answer on the book jacket.


There's an answer behind that? I always thought that it was a brilliant illustration, but would not be very interesting if it was answered...

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Heimhenge » Fri Sep 12, 2014 5:30 pm UTC

Pfhorrest said: Colbert's closing "correction" is very obviously a joke, since the topic at hand is freaking YODA LIFTING AN X-WING WITH THE FORCE.

Yeah, I got the joke. That meaning for "force" based on the Star Wars mythology is actually in most dictionaries in the metaphorical sense of "strength of mind" or "strength of will." Probably never having a physics course (citation needed), Colbert no doubt felt he was being quite clever suggesting that "force" be substituted for "energy."

What pissed me off about Colbert's comment/correction was that it essentially ended the interview. That was after Colbert asked Randall for an example of how he used science fiction to teach science. So Randall was about to explain how he used Yoda lifting the X-Wing outa the swamp to make the concept of energy more tangible. But he never got the chance to finish, since he was interrupted by Colbert who felt he needed to get in a closing joke before the interview ended. Like I said, that's just Colbert's shtick, and the interviews on his show are seldom shtick-free. And you can tell Colbert doesn't like to be out-shticked, since on those rare occasions when an interviewee one-ups him, he's visibly uncomfortable when the guest gets the laughs.

I found this pre-interview advice for guests enlightening (regarding what to expect during a Colbert interview): http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2014/04/08/how_do_you_survive_an_interview_with_stephen_colbert_on_the_colbert_report.html

Hey ... I just realized this is my 5th post. I guess I get some extra privileges now.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Jonathan589 » Fri Sep 12, 2014 6:08 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
Jonathan589 wrote:I've never noticed an explanation for the What-if logo, so I've always assumed it represented a question of "What might happen if you attempted to feed a T Rex to a sarlacc?" Forget the practicality of doing it, what if you did? It was great to see Randall's answer on the book jacket.


There's an answer behind that? I always thought that it was a brilliant illustration, but would not be very interesting if it was answered...


Sorry, meant the book cover; I took the dust-jacket off and found it. Where's a scanner when you need one?

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Sep 12, 2014 6:51 pm UTC

Man, books still use dust jackets in this day and age? Shouldn't we have dust-repellent paper now? Dust jackets belong on old sports almanacs being sold in antique stores alongside Dustbusters, not here in the future!

Well, I guess we've still got another year to go before it's technically the future, but still!
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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Jonathan589 » Fri Sep 12, 2014 7:35 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Man, books still use dust jackets in this day and age? Shouldn't we have dust-repellent paper now?


I could certainly do with dust-repellent paper because the dust settles on the top rather than the front, back and sides of a vertically-lodged book on a shelf. A teacher of mine used to keep his books deliberately upside-down in their jackets because then you turned them up the other way to read them and the dust fell off.

Anyhoo, I like xkcd and What If electronically but now I have a real book to remind me what it's about in case an EMP wipes out the interwebs that surround me.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Dyolf_Knip » Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:06 pm UTC

I can't seem to make Randall's figures for the Richter 15 WI work, either. The gravitational binding energy of the planet is indeed 2.5e32 J, but a richter 15 'only' releases 2e27 J. You'd need about a richter 18.5 quake to do the job. Richter 15 is about what you'd get from 1000 Chicxulub impacts, which would certainly do a number on the crust, but nowhere near enough to actually blast the planet to bits. Actually, it's only 1% of what you'd need to even stop the Earth rotating.

Similarly, blasting the sun apart would require a richter ~24.5 amount of energy, not 20.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby poxic » Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:21 am UTC

Randall and Hank Green did a Google Hangout earlier today. Here is the resulting video, a little over an hour long: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gefilj9 ... FWTadK6loA

It's fairly entertaining, especially if you're familiar with Hank from his channels. I managed to catch the last 2/3 or so live and enjoyed listening while doing other things. They talk about the mole planet, gamma ray bursts, and teeth shattering (but not much).
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The What If-Book?

Postby balthasar_s » Fri Sep 19, 2014 5:09 am UTC

I see another dinosaur . . .
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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby kst » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:47 pm UTC

There's a formatting error in the Nook edition of the book. Several lines of text are printed on top of each other in the "Speed Bumps" chapter (page 168 of 287).

I have a screenshot, but including the URL causes this message to be flagged as spam.

I've reported it to Barnes & Noble, and it should be corrected in a week or so.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Eternal Density » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:57 am UTC

I have not read the What-If book. Instead, I paid Wil Wheaton to listen to it for me. http://www.audible.com.au/pd/Non-fictio ... B00N345GDQ

It was most excellent! Very interesting and amusing listening.
Heimhenge wrote:
Pfhorrest said: Colbert's closing "correction" is very obviously a joke, since the topic at hand is freaking YODA LIFTING AN X-WING WITH THE horse.

Yeah, I got the joke. That meaning for "horse" based on the Star Wars mythology is actually in most dictionaries in the metaphorical sense of "strength of mind" or "strength of will." Probably never having a physics course (citation needed), Colbert no doubt felt he was being quite clever suggesting that "horse" be substituted for "energy."
I haven't seen that, but I did watch an excellent live webcast (not live) with Randall which I think was recorded at Google HQ. It was at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gefilj92YIQ but it's been marked private since I watched it (and I stupidly deleted my downloaded copy of it, trusting that it would still be on youtube).

Oh and I love what my horse filter is doing :D
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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby jamesh » Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:06 am UTC

Does anyone know the difference between the US and Commonwealth Kindle Editions? There is a 24 megabyte size difference, which makes me wonder what's missing from the version available here:

US Edition: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IYUYF4A/
File Size: 28890 KB
Print Length: 321 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0544272994
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 2, 2014)

Commonwealth Edition: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00J379DC2/
File Size: 4321 KB
Print Length: 336 pages
Publisher: John Murray (4 September 2014)

Is it just different resolution images, or something more?

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Yakk » Thu Oct 02, 2014 2:04 pm UTC

White-out over the extra "u"s?
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Congrats

Postby hoogabooga » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:04 pm UTC

Congratulations Randall on not only publishing a great book, but having it recognized and become and #1 bestseller.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Jakec » Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:23 pm UTC

I also noticed that the book said that ammonia was an element. Funny. Still, I really liked the book, though I was a bit disappointed that some of the sections were just repeats of what-if blog entries.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby Sprocket » Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:03 am UTC

Colbert Bump, Bitches!

Interesting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Yo ... eller_list
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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby chris857 » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:45 pm UTC

Just last night, I took the dust jacket off and was like "ooh, bonus illustrations"

Spoiler:
A map of a drained ocean and the consequence of the logo's circumstances.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby LukeWebber » Sun Oct 12, 2014 3:41 am UTC

I really miss reading the Alt-text, but the book was great.

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Re: The "What-If?" Book

Postby klausok » Tue Oct 14, 2014 6:38 pm UTC

On page 42, that is the last page of the "periodic wall of the elements" article, there is a drawing of a wall leaving out astatine and the transuranic elements. This ought to be safe, given proper containment of the more reactive elements. However, the box in the lower left hand corner is francium. This is like astatine, only more so.

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Re: Congrats

Postby qwertziop » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:28 am UTC

...and top ten in germany!1!!
(spiegel magazine paperback bestseller)

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What If? You live in Canada and want the book?

Postby MrEnder » Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:16 pm UTC

I live in Canada and don't see any stores listed that are in Canada (at least that I know of) so how do I get a copy of What If? in Canada?

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Re: What If? You live in Canada and want the book?

Postby bachaddict » Sat Oct 18, 2014 7:55 pm UTC

MrEnder wrote:I live in Canada and don't see any stores listed that are in Canada (at least that I know of) so how do I get a copy of What If? in Canada?

An online shop, like me (I got the ebook)
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Re: What If? You live in Canada and want the book?

Postby MrEnder » Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:22 pm UTC

bachaddict wrote:
MrEnder wrote:I live in Canada and don't see any stores listed that are in Canada (at least that I know of) so how do I get a copy of What If? in Canada?

An online shop, like me (I got the ebook)


But I really want something I can hold in my hands


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