Folding paper to get to the moon?!

If you start off with a very big piece of paper which is also very thin – just 0.001 cm thick, how many times would you need to fold it to get to the moon?

  • Fold the paper 1 time –> thickness = 0.002 cm
  • Fold the paper 2 times –> thickness = 0.004 cm
  • Fold the paper 3 times –> thickness = 0.008 cm
  • Fold the paper 4 times –> thickness = 0.016 cm
  • ….
If you fold a piece of paper in half 104 times it would make it as thick as  the observable universe (mathematically).' Can you explain this statement?  - Quora

You can see that with every subsequent fold that we make, the paper doubles in thickness.

After 10 folds –> 2 to the power of 10 = x1024. Therefore, the total thickness of the paper would be 1.024 cm!

After 25 folds –-> 2 to the power of 25 = x33,554,432. Therefore, the total thickness of the paper would be 33,554 cm, just greater than 1100 feet (we have reached the height of the Empire State building!)

  • 25 folds –> 0.25 miles
  • 30 folds –> 6.67 miles (height at which planes fly)
  • 40 folds –> thickness is 6,832 miles!! (height of the average GPS satellite)
How far is the moon from Earth? | Space

The distance between the Earth () and the Moon () < 250,000 miles

Therefore, by folding a piece of 0.001 cm thick paper 45 times, we get to the Moon!!

This is the power of exponential growth

We're Dumb about Exponential Growth. That's Proving Lethal | The Tyee
Exponential growth graph

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