ESP Biography

RANDALL MUNROE, Cartoonist with a physics degree

Major: Applied Physics

College/Employer: Christopher Newport University

Year of Graduation: Not available.

Picture of Randall Munroe

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Randall studied applied physics in college, minoring in mathematics and computer science. After graduation in 2006, he worked on robotics and virtual reality at NASA. He eventually left his job there to become a full-time cartoonist. He has never blown up the moon.

Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

S2693: Solar Panels, Hand Grenades, and Blowing Up the Moon: How to Think About Energy in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Which has more energy -- a laptop battery or a hand grenade? A pound of cookies or a pound of gasoline? A fastball or a bullet? How high could a Double-A battery lift you? How many solar panels would it take to run a toaster, or a cell phone, or a city? If a bird caught a mosquito made of antimatter outside your building, would you survive the explosion? If you blew up the Moon, what would happen to the Earth? This class will discuss what energy is, how to tell how much of it there is, and how to figure out what it can do. We'll discuss different power sources and how to compare them, from cell phone batteries to nuclear power plants. Throughout the discussion, we will focus on getting fast answers to real-world physics questions using basic math, a piece of scratch paper, and Google Calculator.