Best Selling Books in Humor - Science & Scientists

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release date: Sep 02, 2014
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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

From the creator of the wildly popular webcomic xkcd, hilarious and informative answers to important questions you probably never thought to ask.

Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe’s iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following.

Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions. What if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90 percent the speed of light? How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live? If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?

In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by signature xkcd comics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion.

The book features new and never-before-answered questions, along with updated and expanded versions of the most popular answers from the xkcd website. What If? will be required reading for xkcd fans and anyone who loves to ponder the hypothetical.

release date: Nov 24, 2015
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Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words
Have you ever tried to learn more about some incredible thing, only to be frustrated by incomprehensible jargon?  Randall Munroe is here to help.  In Thing Explainer, he uses line drawings and only the thousand (or, rather, “ten hundred”) most common words to provide simple explanations for some of the most interesting stuff there is, including:

  • food-heating radio boxes (microwaves)
  • tall roads (bridges)
  • computer buildings (datacenters)
  • the shared space house (the International Space Station)
  • the other worlds around the sun (the solar system)
  • the big flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates)
  • the pieces everything is made of (the periodic table)
  • planes with turning wings (helicopters)
  • boxes that make clothes smell better (washers and dryers)
  • the bags of stuff inside you (cells)

How do these things work? Where do they come from? What would life be like without them? And what would happen if we opened them up, heated them up, cooled them down, pointed them in a different direction, or pressed this button? In Thing Explainer, Munroe gives us the answers to these questions and so many more. Funny, interesting, and always understandable, this book is for anyone—age 5 to 105—who has ever wondered how things work, and why.

release date: Apr 17, 1997
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Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)

A New York Times bestseller―the outrageous exploits of one of this century's greatest scientific minds and a legendary American original.

Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; accompanying a ballet on his bongo drums; painting a naked female toreador. In short, here is Feynman's life in all its eccentric―a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.

Black-and-white photographs throughout
release date: May 09, 2017
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We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe
Prepare to learn everything we still don’t know about our strange and mysterious universe.

Humanity's understanding of the physical world is full of gaps. Not tiny little gaps you can safely ignore —there are huge yawning voids in our basic notions of how the world works. PHD Comics creator Jorge Cham and particle physicist Daniel Whiteson have teamed up to explore everything we don't know about the universe: the enormous holes in our knowledge of the cosmos. Armed with their popular infographics, cartoons, and unusually entertaining and lucid explanations of science, they give us the best answers currently available for a lot of questions that are still perplexing scientists, including:

* Why does the universe have a speed limit?
* Why aren't we all made of antimatter?
* What (or who) is attacking Earth with tiny, superfast particles?
* What is dark matter, and why does it keep ignoring us?

It turns out the universe is full of weird things that don't make any sense. But Cham and Whiteson make a compelling case that the questions we can't answer are as interesting as the ones we can.

This fully illustrated introduction to the biggest mysteries in physics also helpfully demystifies many complicated things we do know about, from quarks and neutrinos to gravitational waves and exploding black holes. With equal doses of humor and delight, Cham and Whiteson invite us to see the universe as a possibly boundless expanse of uncharted territory that's still ours to explore.
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release date: May 03, 2005
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The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry

If you have ever suspected that "heavy water" is the title of a bootleg Pink Floyd album, believed that surface tension is an anxiety disorder, or imagined that a noble gas is the result of a heavy meal at Buckingham Palace, then you need The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry to set you on the road to chemical literacy.

You don't need to be a scientist to grasp these and many other complex ideas, because The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry explains them all: the history and basics of chemistry, atomic theory, combustion, solubility, reaction stoichiometry, the mole, entropy, and much more—all explained in simple, clear, and yes, funny illustrations. Chemistry will never be the same!

release date: Sep 21, 2007
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The Complete Manual of Things That Might Kill You: A Guide to Self-Diagnosis for Hypochondriacs
Hypochondriacs have long had to satisfy their needs for self-diagnosis with medical reference materials written for the masses, but this revolutionary book is dedicated entirely to the hypochondriac's unique perspective on health. With over 300 deadly diseases profiled, conveniently organized by symptom (real or imagined), even the mildest hypochondriac's fantasy life will be ignited. We're all going to die of something why not choose an ailment that's rare and hard to pronounce?
  • Perfect for friends who complain a lot
  • Includes fascinating spotlights on terrifying medical phenomena
  • Hardcover; 8 x 10 inches; 192 pages; full-color throughout
release date: Sep 27, 2016
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The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy
The award-winning climate scientist Michael E. Mann and the Pulitzer Prize–winning political cartoonist Tom Toles have been on the front lines of the fight against climate denialism for most of their careers. They have witnessed the manipulation of the media by business and political interests and the unconscionable play to partisanship on issues that affect the well-being of billions. The lessons they have learned have been invaluable, inspiring this brilliant, colorful escape hatch from the madhouse of the climate wars.

The Madhouse Effect portrays the intellectual pretzels into which denialists must twist logic to explain away the clear evidence that human activity has changed Earth's climate. Toles's cartoons collapse counter-scientific strategies into their biased components, helping readers see how to best strike at these fallacies. Mann's expert skills at science communication aim to restore sanity to a debate that continues to rage against widely acknowledged scientific consensus. The synergy of these two climate science crusaders enlivens the gloom and doom of so many climate-themed books―and may even convert die-hard doubters to the side of sound science.
release date: Dec 07, 2010
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How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog
When physics professor Chad Orzel went to the pound to adopt a dog, he never imagined Emmy. She wasn’t just a friendly mutt who needed a home. Soon she was trying to use the strange ideas of quantum mechanics for the really important things in her life: chasing critters, getting treats, and going for walks. She peppered Chad with questions: Could she use quantum tunneling to get through the neighbor’s fence and chase bunnies? What about quantum teleportation to catch squirrels before they climb out of reach? Where are all the universes in which Chad drops steak on the floor?

With great humor and clarity, Chad Orzel explains to Emmy, and to human readers, just what quantum mechanics is and how it works—and why, although you can’t use it to catch squirrels or eat steak, it’s still bizarre, amazing, and important to every dog and human.
release date: Nov 03, 2009
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The Physics of Superheroes: More Heroes! More Villains! More Science! Spectacular Second Edition
A complete update to the hit book on the real physics at work in comic books, featuring more heroes, more villains, and more science 

Since 2001, James Kakalios has taught "Everything I Needed to Know About Physics I Learned from Reading Comic Books," a hugely popular university course that generated coast-to-coast media attention for its unique method of explaining complex physics concepts through comics. With The Physics of Superheroes, named one of the best science books of 2005 by Discover, he introduced his colorful approach to an even wider audience. Now Kakalios presents a totally updated, expanded edition that features even more superheroes and findings from the cutting edge of science. With three new chapters and completely revised throughout with a splashy, redesigned package, the book that explains why Spider-Man's webbing failed his girlfriend, the probable cause of Krypton's explosion, and the Newtonian physics at work in Gotham City is electrifying from cover to cover.
release date: Sep 09, 2013
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1,227 Quite Interesting Facts to Blow Your Socks Off

A New York Times Bestseller

From the creators of the hugely popular BBC quiz show QI and the best-selling Book of General Ignorance: 1,227 mind-bending facts.

Did you know?

• Cows moo in regional accents.

• The international dialing code for Russia is 007.

• The water in the mouth of a blue whale weighs more than its body.

• Pants are responsible for twice as many accidents as chain saws.

• Saddam Hussein's bunker was designed by the grandson of the woman who built Hitler's bunker.

• Heroin was originally sold as cough medicine.

1,227 Quite Interesting Facts to Blow Your Socks Off is a trove of the strangest, funniest, and most improbable tidbits of knowledge―all painstakingly researched and distilled to a brilliant and shocking clarity.

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