Randall Munroe sketches elegant and illuminating explanations of the weird science and math questions that keep geeks awake at night.

Why you should listen

One of a small group of professional web cartoonists, math obsessive and chronic explainer Randall Munroe dazzles the online world (and racks up millions of monthly page views) with the meaninglessly-named (and occasionally heartbreaking) webcomic xkcd.
Munroe’s blog What If? specializes in cunning answers to, as the Atlantic put it, "the kinds of of wonderful and fanciful hypotheticals that might arise when the nerdily inclined get together in bars," like “How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?” or “What would happen if a hair dryer with continuous power was turned on and put in an airtight 1x1x1 meter box?” As he told Math Horizons, I really enjoy solving these kinds of things, and it’s a bonus if I realize that I can put boxes around it and make it a comic."

He is also the author of the book Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

What others say

“Xkcd [sic], a webcomic peopled with lovestruck stick figures, revels in the human side of geekdom ... "Xkcd" isn't an acronym, but in some ways, the comic is itself a language -- a way for people who are unpracticed at talking about their emotions to articulate them.” — Wired, November 13, 2007

Randall Munroe’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Randall Munroe


A spoonful of sugar …

May 8, 2014

Scientist and artist Randall Munroe does something pretty special with his two sites, "What If?" and xkcd. Bringing together the absurd and the thoughtful, he treats serious subjects with levity — and teaches us all a thing or two along the way.

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Live from TED

Using serious math to answer weird questions: Randall Munroe at TED2014

March 20, 2014

Cartoonist (and former NASA roboticist) Randall Munroe illustrates the questions that keep you (or at least him) up at night. Whether that’s “What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?” or “How much of the Earth’s currently-existing water has ever been turned into a soft drink […]

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Live from TED

Signals: The speakers in session 9 of TED2014

March 20, 2014

Communication is fundamental to how we relate and interact. But we receive signals from everywhere — other living creatures, the ecosystem, the earth itself, and the space beyond. In this session six speakers will explore how we send, and more importantly receive, those signals. Here are the speakers who appeared in this session. Click below […]

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