What If? the blog:
- Some of the conclusions are actually quite sweet, like this one.
140 characters may not be a lot, but we will never run out of things to say.
- And this one, for inspirational science value:
I've never seen the Icarus story as a lesson about the limitations of humans. I see it as a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive.
- Billion-Story Building is written to try and explain to a 4.5 year old the problems of the titular building. And despite the fact that the author is describing how a billion-story building is impossible, he ends by saying that it's very similar to the concept of a space elevator, and basically shows her that science could make her dream a reality:
We can't build one yet because there are some problems we don't know how to solve, like how to make the tower strong enough and send power up it to run the elevators. If you really want to build a gigantic tower, you can find out about some of the problems they're working on, and eventually become one of the people coming up with ideas to solve them. Maybe, someday, you could build a giant tower to space.
- The book ends on this pointedly positive note, after a series of negative Richter Scale values, accompanied by a picture of Cueball sitting peacefully against a tree:
Sometimes it's nice not to destroy the world for a change.
- Star Sand ends with two images that contrast beautifully.
We would have a large sandbox full of grains... along with a field of gravel that went on for miles.(image of Cueball, the "sandbox full of grains", and the edge of the "field of gravel") noteThe little sand patch would contain 99% of the pile's individual grains, but less than 1% of its total volume. Our Sun isn't a grain of sand on a soft galactic beach; instead, the Milky Way is a field of boulders with some sand in between.But, as with the real Earth seashore, it's the rare little stretches of sand between the rocks where all the fun seems to happen.(image of Cueball building a small sand castle) note
- The end of Balloon Car appears at first to go in the usual direction, and then promptly pulls an entire 180.
The solution to all this is to ditch the helium. You don't need a balloon. All you need is a kite or a parachute—a surface to act as a wing and redirect that incoming air to push you upward.
In other words, see if your dad will take you parasailing.