RogerBW's Blog

How To, Randall Munroe 10 December 2019

The author of the webcomic xkcd gives desperately impractical but scientifically rigorous advice on how to solve common problems.

In many ways this feels quite like more of What If?, the original site of which has only been updated once since 2017: starting with a problem such as "How to Move", Munroe looks at various subproblems (how to move your actual house to somewhere new) and solves them by various means (jet engines can only support enough fuel for an hour or so of vertical flight). But while these are enjoyable, I think perhaps there's a bit too much structure, and not enough absurdity (yes, all right, there's how to cross a river by boiling it with many, many kettles, but there's no machine-gun-based jetpack).

Some of the chapters aren't absurd at all; How to Predict the Weather and How to Take a Selfie (in particular how to get interesting small things to look large in the background) are practically standard pop-science, albeit with amusing cartoons.

It's… OK. But it's not first-rate material; it feels more like the "greatest hits 2" album of a band that only had about five really good songs in the first place.

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See also:
What If?, Randall Munroe

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