NEW YORK – Have you ever wondered how to forecast time, land a moving train plane or knock down a drone from the sky with sports equipment? Randall Munro, creator of the popular scientific web communication xkcd, has a new book that presents outrageous solutions to a wide range of problems, from the world's to the unusual.
In "How to: An Absurd Science Tips for Common Real-World Problems" (Random Penguins House, 2019), Munro tackles the challenges that are often part of everyday life. He shared the main events of the rap-audience book in the New York Comic Con on October 3.
Be warned: None of his suggestions are easy – in fact, they are as complex and complicated as possible. Let's say you want to to cross a river, which you can achieve by simply swimming through. Munro offers interesting but less practical options: river jumping by car; water freezing or boiling; and was flying from bank to bank on a series of dragons. And he uses science to explain how each of these options is possible (if not practical).
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"I'm one of those people who always comes up with impractical solutions to things – but usually, I'm not trying to find an impractical solution," Munroe told Live Science. Instead, he looks for job seekers who are boring and repetitive "something that would take a while to set up, but once I did, it could actually save me time in the long run," he explained.
"And whenever I feel myself thinking save me savings in the long run, I know I'm going to do something that will definitely take more time than it could save," he said.
Do you need to move to a new home? You can hire a moving truck and pack everything in sacks and boxes. But you might not want to pack, and you would rather move the whole house? In that case, you could try to lift the home with a rectangle – four helicopters fixed on a rigid frame – an engineering challenge that the US military actually researched during The Cold War, Wrote Munro.
What if you were on a plane and had to land an emergency? Munro turned to retired Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hedfield for answers; Hudfield is also a test pilot who has flown about 100 different aircraft types for Canadian and US militias, Munro told a crowd at Comic Con.
Of course, Munroe came up with the weirdest emergency landing scenarios she could think of, with each question just a little more fun than it used to be: from landing on a ski jump ("you should only have time") to landing on the International space station ("chances are slim to none").
"The joke was on me, because he [Hadfield] just respond immediately to them all, "Munroe told Live Science." And many answers were, "Yes, I did."
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Munro also wrote an expert's help to figure out the best way to launch a drone from the sky, calling tennis champion Serena Williams to lend a hand (and a racket) when he couldn't find good data on the accuracy of hitting a tennis court. Williams took charge, on the third attempt to hit a drone from a distance of 40 meters (12 meters).
However, even Williams agrees only because it is physically possible for her disable drone with a tennis court, it probably would not be her method of behavior if the situation arose, Munro told a Comic Con audience.
"I asked her, 'What do you think of this idea as a way to shoot down drones? "She said, 'I think it's a pretty bad idea,'" Munro said.
Then again, sometimes the so-called bad ideas get the job done. Consider the possibility of gently lowering the rover to the surface of Mars with a lightweight space crane; Although it initially sounded ridiculous, NASA successfully used this method sent a curiosity to Mars in August 2012, said Munroe Live Science.
"With NASA discussing their rover launch, they said, 'No one has ever tried this before, and we felt crazy when we thought about it. But every other idea had a fatal flaw and this one failed. " he said.
"It was nice when they admitted that they thought this was just as weird – but they did the math, and it seemed like a good idea, and then it really worked! So sometimes these ideas go away, "Munroe said.
"How To: Absurd Science Tips For Common Real-World Problems" is available for purchase online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book sellers.
Originally posted on Live Science.