When I was in grad school, most of my professors used xkcd comics at some point. I’m pretty sure I understand p-values because of this strip. My friend told me about a book by “that stick figure comic guy from class” so I checked it out. That was What If? by Randall Munroe.
What If? is a book that provides real scientific and mathematic answers to absolutely absurd, but fun questions. Questions like:
And many, many more. In fact, it looks like most of the questions are available on the xkcd site which, at the very least, should give you an indication of your interest level in the book.
Likewise, How To gives real scientific answers to everyday questions but this time the answers are absurd. This book answers questions like:
How to Build a Lava Moat
How to Produce Energy
How to Predict the Weather
Both of these books are just fun, smart reads. Smart in that there is real math and science involved. I have always asked ridiculous questions and described equally ridiculous solutions. The most recent example I clearly recall was last year. We were discussing tsunamis and someone in the group commented something to the effect of “why didn’t they just walk/run/drive away”. After arguing that was probably not possible, that person postulated that given a dirt bike with enough speed, you could go over the tsuanmi and be safe. We then tried to calculate the speed required for such a feat. We REALLY did not want to do our homework.
If you’ve ever done something like that, these books are for you. If that sounds awful, not because we were discussing tsunami survival (that is awful) but if the work sounds like no fun, then this is definitely not the book for you.