Randall Munroe Of xkcd On 'How To' Book Of Scientific Advice : Short Wave Randall Munroe, the cartoonist behind the popular Internet comic xkcd, finds complicated solutions to simple, real-world problems. In the process, he reveals a lot about science and why the real world is sometimes even weirder than we expect. His latest book is called How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. (Encore episode.)

Here's more on nuclear tests of bottled beverages from nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.
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Randall Munroe's Absurd Scientific Advice For Real-World Problems

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Randall Munroe's Absurd Scientific Advice For Real-World Problems

Randall Munroe's Absurd Scientific Advice For Real-World Problems

Randall Munroe's Absurd Scientific Advice For Real-World Problems

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/925363259/925425887" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

In his book How To, Randall Munroe explores whether you could open enough water bottles to fill a swimming pool — using nuclear weapons. Riverhead Books hide caption

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Riverhead Books

In his book How To, Randall Munroe explores whether you could open enough water bottles to fill a swimming pool — using nuclear weapons.

Riverhead Books

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems is the latest book from Randall Munroe, the cartoonist behind the popular Internet comic xkcd. How To explores complicated solutions to simple, real-world problems.

Say, for instance, you're trying to throw a pool party tomorrow, but your pool is empty. How about going online and ordering roughly 100,000 bottles of water to fill it up? But then, how long would it take to unscrew all those bottle caps? And what's the fastest way to get all that water out of the bottles and into the pool?

This thought experiment is not really about filling a pool, of course. But asking a question that leads to another question, and then another. For Munroe, it's a process that reveals a lot about science and why the real world is sometimes even weirder than we expect.

Also in this episode, Munroe tells us some creative ways to figure out if you're a nineties kid. One involves the chickenpox. And Maddie's mom makes a quick guest appearance on the podcast! (Encore Episode.)

Here's more on nuclear tests of bottled beverages from nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org. Give Maddie your absurd advice at @maddie_sofia.

This episode was produced by Brent Baughman and edited by Viet Le.