Pick of the Week – November 17-23, 2014

XKCD, but Randall Munroe, is one of the most popular comics on the internet, so making it my Pick of the Week would be going against the idea of pointing out various things that you may not have heard of.  However, on the off chance that you are not familiar with it, XKCD is, as the website itself states, a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.  The artwork is fairly simplistic.  The characters are all stick figures, if that give you some idea, but the writing is wonderful. 

And, every so often, Munroe breaks out of the standard comic mold and delivers something truly extraordinary.  For example, you can spend ages exploring THIS comic.  And then there’s TIME, which is basically a movie told one frame at a time.  To see it in full, THIS video from Youtube is a great help.

I could go on about XKCD, but, as I implied at the beginning, the comic itself is not my pick for this week.  What you may not have noticed when visiting the site is a link near the top labeled, “What If?”  In “What If?”, Munroe attempts to answer hypothetical questions from readers with a mix of science, humor, and comics, and it, my dear readers, is, at long last (and getting longer all the time as I extend this sentence), my Pick of the Week.  For example, one question ponders “What if everyone actually had only one soul mate, a random person somewhere in the world?”  The ANSWER involves some large numbers and very depressing odds.  But THIS ONE, about putting a hair dryer in a box, is one of my absolute favorites.

Back in September, Munroe released What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, a book collecting several of the best questions from the archive as well as several that he had never before published.  I have it, and it is an entertaining, enlightening, and hilarious read.  There’s also an audio version read by the Lord of the Geeks himself, Wil Wheaton.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter