I have no way of testing this proposition, but Malcolm Gladwell, author of the best-selling book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, says it’s true. Take a large piece of paper. Fold it in half. Then do it again, and again, and again, until you have folded that piece of paper fifty times. When finished, how tall do you think the final folded piece of paper will be?
The size of a telephone book? As thick as a mattress? As tall as a refrigerator? Not even close. Gladwell says the folded piece of paper would be as high as the distance from the earth to the sun – with only fifty folds. This is what mathematicians call “geometric progression.” I call it mind-boggling. Something that starts incredibly small, as it doubles upon itself, takes very little time to become something extraordinarily huge.
My father used…
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