September 16, 2004

Fold an ordinary sheet of paper in half 100 times and it is a thick as the approximate radius of the known universe.

Reminds me of the question: "Which would you rather have, a million dollars RIGHT NOW, or a penny which I will give you double each day for a month (tomorrow 2 pennies, the day after 4 pennies, etc.) Now consider some examples of the principle in biology: * Bacteria in a culture dish will grow exponentially until the available food is exhausted. * A new virus (SARS, West Nile, smallpox) will spread exponentially. Each infected person can infect multiple new people. * Human population.

  • Note that exponential growth doesn't necessarily imply fast growth. Take, for instance, compound interest.
  • but isn't this all a moot point, because a sheet of paper isn't big enough to fold 100 times? *hates math*
  • Also, you can only fold a sheet of paper 7 times, unless you're a math whiz.
  • I tried this once, but I stopped after the 50th fold when the sun ignited it.
  • I could be wrong, but this sounds an awful lot like Xeno's Paradox in play...
  • but isn't this all a moot point, because a sheet of paper isn't big enough to fold 100 times? Yes, see cabingirl's link for a demo of realistic maths on paper folding.
  • will someone please explain how a piece of paper that is a mere 8x10 inches gets that big? please? i mean, there aren't enough paper molecules to make it that big, are there? PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS.
  • /throbbing headache sets in; flagpole goes back to see the kittens
  • At some point you have to start folding molecules, then atoms, etc. etc. So don't worry, no one will be doing this anytime soon.
  • Clam out, SD. Like you said, It's impossible. But mecurious' link deals with a playful hypotethical case where we are folding a continuous (not made of a finite quantity of atoms) piece of paper that doesn't waste paper on curvatures. Think more a of a piece of paper being cut by the middle then arranging the pieces one over the other and cutting again ad infinitum.
  • Another experiment: Fold a paper check in half a little too hard (you know, with you fingernail, so the edge can give you a paper cut) and see if cashier balks at accepting it. Extra points for illegible signatures outside the approved area.
  • ohhhhhhhhh! a continuous not made of a finite quantity of atoms piece of paper! those are nice, aren't they?
  • those are nice, aren't they Yes, Hypothetical Paperâ„¢ is infinitely thin and frictionless. It can be used to individually wrap Koch snowflakes. It can be ordered into any of three trillion origami configurations on command. It has a faint smell of cardamom.
  • Yeah, because metaphors are totally useless, especially when trying to teach people complicated concepts! sigh.
  • We're going to see the Hytopethical Patottamus and tell him the sky is falling!
  • 1) get out your calculator 2) type "1" 3) type *2, enter 4) repeat 99 more times 5) you get the number: 1,267,650,600,228,229,401,496,703,205,376 6) assume a piece of paper is .1mm thick (ie: ten sheets are a mm thick) 7) multiply times .1 to get the number of milimeters 8) divide by 1 million to get the number of kilometers 9) you get 126,765,060,022,822,940,149,670 km 10) there are 9,460,528,400,000 kilometers in a light year 11) so the universe is 13,399,363,615 light years in radius, or 26,798,727,230 light years across. 12) the universe is only 13+ billion light years? 14) my math obviously sucks
  • here, scarabic, have some anti-math. brain. hurts. worse. now.
  • Dudes! Fold it into a cootie catcher and find out Who is Your True Love!!!
  • I folded mine into a spherical chicken.