How To | Randall Munroe

Summary of: How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems
By: Randall Munroe


Welcome to a captivating exploration of the book summary of ‘How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems’ by Randall Munroe. Dive into a world where mundane problems are tackled by ingenious and unconventional solutions. The book offers bizarre, yet scientifically grounded, solutions for situations such as crash-landing an airplane, building a pool out of bottled water, digging a hole with industrial methods, and even attempting to live on Mars. Prepare to be entertained and educated as you embark on this oddly informative journey that combines humor, physics, and creativity.

Emergency Landing Strategy

Learn how to execute a safe and viable emergency landing for small planes, including the best landing spots and techniques for different terrains. The author shares valuable insights on how to land on farm fields and cow pastures, as well as how to land on top of trains or flatbed trucks. The article also provides tips on how to land on an aircraft carrier or a surfaced submarine in case of a malfunction over the sea. The key takeaway is to stay calm, follow the instructions, and be prepared to take off again in case of any mishaps.

Building a Pool in a Quirky Way

After landing a plane, a person decides to celebrate by building an in-ground pool but faces a water shortage. The article suggests quirky ways to collect water and fill the pool.

Imagine taking a flight and then successfully crash-landing a plane. What would you do next? Celebrate, of course! And what better way to celebrate than having a pool party? That’s exactly what the protagonist of this article decides to do. However, there’s an obstacle in his way: he needs water to fill his in-ground pool, and he doesn’t have a pipeline on his property.

But don’t worry, the article provides some quirky ways to get the necessary 20,000 gallons of water. The protagonist could order 150,000 bottles of Fiji water from Amazon for approximately $1 per bottle. Of course, he’d also have to pay a hefty price for same-day delivery, which will cost him around $100,000. Then there’s the time-consuming task of unscrewing all those bottle caps.

Blowing up the bottles with explosives might be quicker, but it’s not the best idea. The US government tested nuclear weapons on beverage bottles in Nevada in 1955 and found that most of them survived the explosions. So, there are better ways to open bottles. For example, using an industrial plastic shredder like the Brentwood AZ15WL 15kW can easily process 30 tons of plastic and liquid per hour. At that rate, it would take only a little over two hours to fill the pool.

But hold on, don’t rush out to buy an industrial shredder just yet; they usually cost a pretty penny, ranging from five to six figures. However, if you mention that the alternative is a nuclear bomb, you might be able to negotiate a discount.

This article is a fun and unconventional take on building a pool. It demonstrates that sometimes, we need to think outside the box to find solutions to unexpected problems.

Digging 101

Are you wondering how to dig a sizable hole for your in-ground swimming pool? The classic shovel provides roughly 0.3 to 1 cubic meters of dirt per hour, but a vacuum excavator can excavate much faster through tightly packed soil. However, the best option if you want to increase your digging power is a mining excavator. With this industrial machinery, you can remove one layer of soil at a time until you reach the desired depth. This technique is also used to create gigantic open-pit mines. With your newly acquired excavation skills, you can find buried pirate treasure by excavating an entire island. As long as you build a sea wall, you can sift through the dug-up dirt and find the treasure if it exists.

Lava moat for Home Security

Protecting your home from burglary could mean investing in a lava moat. According to this book’s recommendation, it is easy to make lava with just rocks and heat; and maintain its temperature by installing an electric coil under the moat. However, this security measure comes with some hefty costs, with a one-acre property being $60,000 per day. The heat produced by the lava is enough to cause second-degree burns in less than a second, so passing over it is nearly impossible. But with careful consideration, the idea can work for people living near water through which the heat can be circulated for cooling. This method is already being used by Google to cool their data centers in Finland.

Wind-Powered Homes on Mars

Have you ever wondered how you could power your home on Mars? With no access to Earth-based resources, it’s essential to generate energy onsite. This captivating article explores the possibilities and limitations of various energy sources such as hydropower, nuclear power, fossil fuels, geothermal power, and solar power on Mars. But, there’s one solution that stands out, wind power. By tying a 5,820 kilometer-long tether to Phobos, Mars’s nearest moon, and attaching a supersonic wind turbine to it, you can generate enough energy to power your Martian homestead. This must-read article explains the three simple steps to harness wind energy and offers some tips on how to transmit the energy to your home. So, are you ready to live off-grid on Mars with wind power?

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