Okay, as countless of you had actually heard, I"ve obtained a new job together a permanent Professor. And not only am i pretty excited around it, I assumed I"d share through you among the much more interesting things I taught on the very first day.

You are watching: How many times do you have to fold a piece of paper to reach the moon

I got this idea from talk to Michael, the chair that the department (and this is not the an initial time he"s teach me other neat). Chances are, if you"re in a classroom, the one point everyone has is a item of paper.


If you folded this piece of record in half, that would currently be double as thick together it to be before:



So my question is this: how countless times would certainly you need to fold this record onto itself to with the Moon?

I"ll offer you a opportunity to guess, so choose the the next one native the options below.

How many times would certainly you need to fold a web page to develop something thick enough to reach the Moon? 

Well, let"s see how we"d figure it out. Ns don"t know exactly how thick one item of file is, however I recognize it"s nice thin. Ns can, however, estimate how huge those 500 web page reams are. They"re about 2 customs high, so probably that"s around 5 cm. That method one web page is about 0.01 cm high. And what that the Moon?



Mean street from the planet is about 384,000 km, or about 3.84 x 1012 pages away. For this reason you"d expect that you"ll need an awful many foldings to get there, right? Well, hang on because that a second. As soon as I start with an unfolded page (zero foldings), it"s one page thick. As soon as I fold a web page once, it will be 2 pages thick. However -- and also this is key -- once I wrinkles it twice top top itself, it"s no three, but 4 pages thick.



If ns fold the a 3rd time, I"ll see that it"s 8 pages thick.

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Can you watch a pattern here? paper folding is exponential, so that if ns fold that a fourth time, it"ll be 16 pages special (so that choice is clearly wrong), a 5th time will give me 32 pages thick, and also so on. Through time I gain to 9 foldings, my folded document is bigger than my initial ream of 500 sheets. By time I acquire to 20 foldings, my folded record is much more than 10 kilometers high, i m sorry surpasses Mt. Everest.

41 foldings will obtain me slightly more than halfway to the Moon, so that method that 42 foldings is every it takes! (Of course, an excellent luck folding a real piece of paper more 보다 7 or 8 times...) quite incredible, isn"t it? however that"s the strength of an exponential, that it lets you turn small things into substantial things by merely compounding what you have actually over and also over again. And also incredibly, it just takes 42 foldings of a record to gain from the earth to the Moon, and also only around 94 foldings the a record to make something the dimension of the whole visible Universe!