xkcd: What If?

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xkcd: What If? #120 - Alternate Universe What Ifs

Postby bystander » Sun Nov 23, 2014 6:40 pm

Alternate Universe What Ifs

    Dispatches from a horrifying alternate universe

    This week: Excerpts from What If articles written in a world which, thankfully, is not the one we live in:
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #121 - Frozen Rivers

Postby bystander » Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:12 am

Frozen Rivers

    What would happen all of the rivers in the US were instantly frozen in the middle of the summer? — Zoe Cutler
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #122 - Lava Lamp

Postby bystander » Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:31 pm

Lava Lamp

    What if I made a lava lamp out of real lava? What could I use as a clear medium?
    How close could I stand to watch it?
    — Kathy Johnstone, 6th Grade Teacher (via a student)
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #123 - Fairy Demographics

Postby bystander » Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:47 pm

Fairy Demographics

    How many fairies would fly around, if each fairy is born from the first laugh of a child
    and fairies were immortal?
    — Mira Kühn, Germany
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #124 - Lunar Swimming

Postby bystander » Mon Jan 12, 2015 5:42 pm

Lunar Swimming

    What if there was a lake on the Moon? What would it be like to swim in it? Presuming
    that it is sheltered in a regular atmosphere, in some giant dome or something.
    — Kim Holder
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #125 - Bowling Ball

Postby bystander » Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:23 pm

Bowling Ball

    You are in a boat directly over the Mariana Trench. If you drop a 7kg
    bowling ball over the side, how long would it take to hit the bottom?
    — Doug Carter
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #126 - Stairs

Postby bystander » Tue Feb 03, 2015 4:56 pm

Stairs

    If you made an elevator that would go to space (like the one you mentioned in the
    billion-story building) and built a staircase up (assuming regulated air pressure)
    about how long would it take to climb to the top?
    — Ethan Annas
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #127 - Tug of War

Postby bystander » Tue Feb 03, 2015 5:25 pm

Tug of War

    Would it be possible for two teams in a tug-o-war to overcome the ultimate tensile strength
    of an iron rod and pull it apart? How big would the teams have to be?
    — Markus Andersen
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #128 - Zippo Phone

Postby bystander » Sat Feb 07, 2015 7:55 pm

Zippo Phone

    What in my pocket actually contains more energy, my Zippo or my smartphone? What would be the
    best way of getting the energy from one to the other? And since I am already feeling like Bilbo in this
    one, is there anything else in my pocket that would have unexpected amounts of stored energy?
    — Ian Cummings
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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Re: xkcd: What If? #128 - Zippo Phone

Postby Chris Peterson » Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:02 pm

bystander wrote:Zippo Phone

    What in my pocket actually contains more energy, my Zippo or my smartphone? What would be the
    best way of getting the energy from one to the other? And since I am already feeling like Bilbo in this
    one, is there anything else in my pocket that would have unexpected amounts of stored energy?
    — Ian Cummings

Usually he gets these things right, but not this time. Your phone contains quite a bit more energy than your lighter, unless it's a very massive lighter and an incredibly tiny phone.

E = mc2

Doing something useful with that energy, of course, is an entirely different matter.
Chris

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Re: xkcd: What If? #128

Postby geckzilla » Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:27 pm

He seems to be restricting the use of the word "energy" to caloric energy but didn't bother mentioning it.
Just call me "geck" because "zilla" is like a last name.

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Re: xkcd: What If? #128

Postby Chris Peterson » Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:49 pm

geckzilla wrote:He seems to be restricting the use of the word "energy" to caloric energy but didn't bother mentioning it.

Which is a little surprising, because he would usually consider all options with a question like this.
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Re: xkcd: What If? #128

Postby geckzilla » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:36 pm

There are a lot of pedants following his every comic and what-if. I'd be surprised if someone hasn't messaged him about it but you could be the first if you sent him an email.
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xkcd: What If? #129 - Black Hole Moon

Postby bystander » Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:53 pm

Black Hole Moon

    What would happen if the Moon were replaced with an equivalently-massed black hole?
    If it's possible, what would a lunar ("holar"?) eclipse look like?
    — Matt
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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Re: xkcd: What If? #129

Postby emc » Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:23 pm

I think it would be sad if the moon were to become a black hole. I think our howling would certainly no longer be heard... and things would generally get very quiet... at least from a human perspective.

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xkcd: What If? #130 - Snow Removal

Postby bystander » Sat Feb 21, 2015 7:11 am

Snow Removal

    I've long thought about putting a flamethrower on the front of a car to melt
    snow and ice before you drive across it. Now I've realized that a flamethrower
    is impractical, but what about a high-powered microwave emitter?
    — Matt Van Opens
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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Re: xkcd: What If?

Postby THX1138 » Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:00 pm

In order for earths moon to hold an atmosphere it would need a much greater magnetic field
Seems to me the simplest way, the cheapest way and the fastest way to accomplish this could be treating the moon as if it were an electric motor.
Set up some nuclear power plants and run an electrical grid across the surface to create an artificial magnetic field
What if ?
I've come to the conclusion that when i said i wanted to be somebody when i grew up i probably should have been more specific

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Re: xkcd: What If?

Postby bystander » Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:30 pm

THX1138 wrote:
What if ?

xkcd: What If? Submit a Question
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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Re: xkcd: What If?

Postby geckzilla » Tue Feb 24, 2015 7:05 pm

THX1138 wrote:In order for earths moon to hold an atmosphere it would need a much greater magnetic field
Seems to me the simplest way, the cheapest way and the fastest way to accomplish this could be treating the moon as if it were an electric motor.
Set up some nuclear power plants and run an electrical grid across the surface to create an artificial magnetic field
What if ?

I think you need a much higher gravity to keep the atmosphere concentrated at the surface, too.
Just call me "geck" because "zilla" is like a last name.

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xkcd: What If? #131 - Microwaves

Postby bystander » Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:11 pm

Microwaves

    I have had a particular problem for as long as I can remember. Any time I attempt to heat left
    over Chinese food in a microwave, it fails to heat completely through somewhere. Usually the
    center but not always and usually rice, but often it will be a small section of meat. It's baffling
    and has made me automatically adjust heating times to over 2 minutes. In most cases this tends
    to heat the bowl or plate more than the food. So I suppose the question is what is the optimal
    time to heat left over Chinese food in the microwave, how about an 800 watt microwave?
    — James
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #132 - Hotter than Average

Postby bystander » Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:17 pm

Hotter than Average

    I saw a sign at a hot springs tub saying "Caution: Water is hotter than average" with water
    at about 39°C. Although they were presumably trying to say "hotter than the average
    swimming pool," this got me wondering: What is the average temperature of all water
    on the Earth’s surface, and how does that temperature compare to 39°C?
    — Graham Ward
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #133 - Flagpole

Postby bystander » Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:22 pm

Flagpole

    So, you're falling from a height above the tallest building in your town, and you don't have
    a parachute. But wait! Partway down the side of that skyscraper there's a flagpole sticking
    out, sans flag! You angle your descent and grab the pole just long enough to swing around
    so that when you let go you're now heading back up toward the sky. As gravity slows you
    and brings you to a halt, you reach the top of the skyscraper, where you reach out and
    pull yourself to safety. What's the likelihood this could happen?
    — Rex Ungericht
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #134 - Space Burial

Postby bystander » Fri Apr 03, 2015 3:14 pm

Space Burial

    I've often joked I'd like to have my remains put into orbit. Not in a "scatter my ashes" sense,
    but, like, "throw my naked corpse out the airlock" sense. Honestly, my main motivation is to
    baffle someone in the distant future, but it's an interesting scientific question: what would
    happen to my body in orbit over the course of years, decades or centuries?
    — Tim in Fremont
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #135 - Digging Downward

Postby bystander » Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:33 pm

Digging Downward

    What would happen if I dug straight down, at a speed of 1 foot per second?
    What would kill me first?
    — Jack Kaunis
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

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xkcd: What If? #136 - Spiders vs. the Sun

Postby bystander » Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:45 am

Spiders vs. the Sun

    Which has a greater gravitational pull on me: the Sun, or spiders?
    Granted, the Sun is much bigger, but it is also much further away,
    and as I learned in high school physics, the gravitational force is
    proportional to the square of the distance.
    — Marina Fleming
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor


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