What If? 2 Book Summary - What If? 2 Book explained in key points
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What If? 2 summary

Randall Munroe

Additional Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

4.1 (197 ratings)
17 mins
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    What If? 2
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    What would happen if Jupiter was shrunk to the size of a house and placed in a suburban street?

    Do you want the bad news first, or the good news?

    Well, let’s go with the good news: Jupiter is roughly the same density as water. If Jupiter was house-sized – so, let’s say about 50 feet wide – it would only weigh 2,500 tons. Meaning, your new neighbor isn’t about to mess around with your gravity by forming a black hole.

    The bad news is that Jupiter isn’t actually made of water. Before Jupiter was, well, Jupiter, it was a big diffuse cloud of gas floating through space. Then, gravity caused this gas cloud to collapse in on itself. When gas is compressed it gets hot. Seriously hot. Jupiter, much like Earth, is formed of a thin, cool surface layer that keeps a lid on a scorching hot interior. As in, tens of thousands of degrees hot. Like all things that are blazing hot and super-compressed, Jupiter’s interior wants to expand. It doesn’t, but only because its own super-strong gravitational forces counteract that impulse.

    Shrink Jupiter down to the size of a house and that massive gravitational force disappears.

    So here’s what would happen.

    Jupiter would expand rapidly outward in a boiling-hot fireball. That’s going to have quite a negative impact on property values in your street; because your street is going to be obliterated. In fact, your whole neighborhood is toast.

    But, hey, let’s finish off with some more good news. This explosion will be fairly contained. When it’s not densely compressed, Jupiter’s molten hot core will cool rapidly. And Jupiter will return to its original form – as diffuse clouds of gas floating through the sky.

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    What is What If? 2 about?

    What If? 2 (2022) is Randall Munroe’s follow-up to the New York Times best-selling What If? Like its predecessor, it comprises Munroe’s serious scientific answers to the absurd, funny, and whimsical questions submitted to him by readers, ranging from “How big would a snowball be if rolled from the top of Mt. Everest to the bottom?” to “Could a person eat a cloud?”

    Who should read What If? 2?

    • Fans of xkcd’s nerd-culture humor
    • People who love science but don’t take it too seriously
    • Anyone who’s ever wondered what would happen if Jupiter were shrunk to the size of a suburban house

    About the Author

    Randall Munroe trained as a physicist and worked building robots at one of NASA’s research labs before quitting to focus full-time on his wildly successful webcomic xkcd, a tongue-in-cheek take on subjects including science, math, computer programming, and internet culture.

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