Interview with Randall Munroe

you’ve seen his comics xkcd on the web
before and perhaps you’ve seen his new site What
, where Randall pondered things like what would happen if
you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% of the speed of light
how long you’d have to wait while
opening your mouth till a bird pooped in it
, and what
would happen if everyone on Earth aimed a laser at the Moon
. (See
kids? Science can be fun!)

Megan Garber of The Atlantic spoke to Munroe about how the new What If
series got started:

First things first: Why did you create What If?

It actually started with a class. MIT has a weekend program where volunteers
can teach classes to groups of high school students on any subject you
want. I had a friend who was doing it, and it sounded really cool —
so I signed up to teach a class about energy, which I always thought
was interesting, but which is a slippery idea to define. I was really
getting into the nuts and bolts of what energy is, and it was a lot
of fun — but when I started to get into the normal lecture part of
the class, it felt kind of dry, and I could tell the kids weren't super
into it. And then we got to a part where I brought up an example —
I think it was Yoda in Star Wars. And they got really excited about
that. And then they started throwing out more questions about different
movies — like, "When the Eye of Sauron exploded at the end of
The Lord of the Rings, and knocked people over from this far away, can
we tell how big a blast that was?" They got really excited about
that — and I had a lot more fun doing it than I did just teaching the
regular material.

So I spent the second half of the class just solving problems like
that in front of them. And then I was like, "That was really fun.
I want to keep doing it."

Read the rest of the interview: Link