Science/Mathematics

What if? 2 : Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Image
What if? 2
Author
Munroe, Randall
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

As a fan of XKCD, I've loved the What If? spinoff series despite how irregularly Randall has updated it. Considering there have only been five new posts in the last five years, and they were all in the months leading up to the release of this book, I needed a good dose of What If? Partly because it had been so long since I had read any What If? posts, all the chapters in this book felt fresh and hilarious. Now that I read through it, I'm sad that I'll have to wait another eight years for a third book in the series.

Randall always has a down-to-earth style of describing incredibly complicated scientific concepts. This means What If? 2 is quite educational once you get past the ridiculous premises that readers have sent in. It's also nice how each chapter is easily readable in a few minutes so that I could just pick it up and get a good laugh before moving on to something else. After all, this book is straight-up funny. This should come as no surprise—again—given the absurd questions readers asked Randall.

It felt like this book had more new content than the previous book in the series. This might not be true, but it felt that way because I hadn't read any of the posts that made it into this book in several years. This was my main qualm with the first book: that it was just a printed-out part of the internet. In this sequel, there weren't just new questions answered but also quick little sections that covered easily answerable questions (as compared to its predecessor's highlights of disturbing questions with no answers). Overall, I found it to be a fun read and I'm counting the days until What If? 3 comes out.

Hilarious and scientifically accurate answers to oddball questions, I give What If? 2 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Gathering Moss

Author
Kimmerer, Robin Wall
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer is a thought-provoking and beautifully written book that explores the world of moss and the ecological relationships that exist in nature. As a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer's perspective on nature is both scientific and cultural, offering a unique insight into the world of moss. The book is structured around a series of essays that delve into the various aspects of moss and the ways in which it interacts with other living beings. Kimmerer's writing style is poetic and evocative, with her descriptions of the moss and its surroundings painting a vivid picture of the world she is exploring. Her use of personal anecdotes and storytelling adds a personal touch to the book, inviting readers to connect with the natural world on a deeper level. One of the strengths of the book is the way in which Kimmerer explores the interconnectedness of all living things. Through her examination of moss and the relationships it has with other plants and animals, she demonstrates how all living things are dependent on one another and how our actions can have far-reaching consequences. Overall, Gathering Moss is a beautifully written and insightful book that offers a unique perspective on the natural world. Kimmerer's combination of scientific knowledge and cultural insights makes this book a must-read for anyone interested in ecology, indigenous perspectives, and the beauty of the natural world. Her poetic writing style and personal anecdotes make it a very accessible and engaging read.

Reviewer's Name
Addison

Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass

Author
Kimmerer, Robin Wall
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Braiding Sweetgrass, written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, is a deeply insightful and poetic book that blends Indigenous knowledge, scientific understanding, and personal narrative to offer a powerful vision of how we can heal our relationship with the natural world. Through a series of essays, Kimmerer shares her knowledge and experiences as a botanist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, encouraging readers to see the world around them in a new and more meaningful way. Through her personal experiences and reflections, she demonstrates the ways in which scientific knowledge and traditional Indigenous wisdom can be complementary and mutually enriching. Her discussions of plants, animals, and ecosystems are rooted in both Western science and Indigenous knowledge, offering a holistic understanding of the natural world that is both insightful and inspiring. he weaves together scientific facts, personal anecdotes, and traditional stories to create a narrative that is both informative and emotionally engaging. Her prose is rich with metaphor and symbolism, inviting readers to see the world in a new light and to appreciate the interconnectedness of all living things. Additionally, her reflections on the importance of reciprocity, gratitude, and relationship-building are particularly insightful, offering a powerful alternative to the dominant narrative of human domination over nature. Overall, this book was a very fascinating and eye-opening read that has honestly impacted the way I view life, science, and nature together. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in environmentalism, Indigenous knowledge, or the intersections between science and spirituality.
Reviewer Grade: 11.

Reviewer's Name
Addison

Book Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Author
Adams, Douglas
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

This book is genuinely one of the funniest I’ve ever read. I mean, it’s iconic for a reason! The characters are a hoot, and the world is even more so. The world may be nonsensical and the humor is a little crass, but it adds to the charm in my opinion. It wasn’t a life changing read by any means, but it kept my middle-school monkey brain entertained, and that’s all I can ask for. A must-read for sci-fi and comedy fans alike! (8th Grade)

Reviewer's Name
Maya

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Author
Skloot, Rebecca
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, written by Rebecca Skloot, is a book detailing the life of Henrietta Lacks. Henrietta Lacks unknowingly donated her cells to one of the most important fields of research, cancer cures. Her tumor cells, also known as “HeLa”, are extraordinary in that they replicate fast enough to create a whole new human in under 48 hours. This book is fascinating in more than one way: it explores the history of her and her cells, and it explores some gray areas in rights to cells and parts of dead entities. Instead of focusing just on one topic and one family, it expands to include many that have had to deal with bio material rights. I personally found this an interesting but slightly disturbing read. I recommend reading this one to learn about the history of cell rights and their gray areas.

Reviewer's Name
Ethan

Book Review: The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer

Author
Kotler, Steven
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

As the title would suggest, "The Art of Impossible", by Steven Kotler, prescribes a regime for achieving what he calls the "Infinite Game". In other words, achieving goals to continually improve, even in ways that might be considered impossible. Kotler depicts what top performers do on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis, and even adapts such habits into ways the average reader can understand and implement them. And while he does so in a systematic and understandable fashion, he also goes in-depth into the science behind each of the things he says. Although it sometimes gets deeply analytical, it never stops being intriguing. There are some parts that aren't completely family friendly, but the content remains solid.

Reviewer's Name
Noah

Book Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope

Author
Kamkwamba, William and Mealer, Bryan
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

This book is one of the most inspirational stories I've ever read. The journey put forth, following William, is truly a gem that makes you think about what could've happened if something had been different. I loved reading it because I felt every details of William's journey to develop his windmill that put him on fame. His determination to prove that science is 'real' and can make a difference, especially during a time and in a culture that rejects it, shows his character and his want for a better life in his land. He perseveres through the struggles of drought and hunger, and overcomes the ridicule thrown from all sides to be able to rise up and rise above, and make his visions come true. A really inspirational story, that shows a hero's journey in a way not usually thought.

Reviewer's Name
Evelyn

Book Review: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Author
Munroe, Randall
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

What If? by Randall Munroe is an amazing series of completely impossible and extremely strange scientific questions that are answered with complete scientific accuracy, and a bit of humor. Munroe takes questions people ask over the web and applies physics, chemistry, and other sciences to answer the questions. One of my favorite hypotheticals is what would happen if everybody pointed a laser pointer at the moon? Munroe approaches this by slowly increasing power, until the moon’s surface explodes, and it propels itself away from earth. The hilarious and entertaining questions can provide fun for anyone with an interest in science, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s thought of an impossible hypothetical question.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Harrison

Book Review: Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

Author
Sheinkin, Steve
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin is a must-read for history buffs everywhere. It features the history of nuclear science, including the first nuclear reactors and the building of the initial Manhattan Project team. It follows the progress of the Manhattan Project, while also detailing US and Soviet efforts to prevent German bomb development. It speaks of the heroism of commandos destroying enrichment facilities, and the long nights pulled by sleep-deprived scientists, as well as the fantastic power of the first Trinity tests. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in nuclear or WWII history.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Harrison

Book Review: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Author
Schlosser, Eric
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

Fast Food Nation is a nonfiction book that is extremely informative about the fast food industry. The book starts with the history of fast food and then informs the audience of business deals, the horrors of fast food, and ways the fast food industry affects others. I picked this book because I wanted to know the truth to what happens in the fast food industry and all of the gross things that are done to the food. Fast Food Nation has several local and state references from Cheyenne Mountain to Greeley, Co. I really liked this book since it was outstandingly educational about every aspect of the fast food industry such as the meat industry, fast food employees, advertising, food poisoning and more; however, I would have liked it more if it went even more in-depth about all the ways the food is handled. Overall, I recommended this book if you want a good nonfiction read and if you want to be more educated about the five to ten dollar meal you buy frequently.

Reviewer's Name
Lana