How Fast is Exponential Growth? (Or, Yao Ming Confronts the Vastness of the Universe)

A wonderful illustration about linear vs exponential growth for all network marketeers. For those who are still in la la land, this is a wake up call. A job won’t make you rich. Your boss will make sure of that even if you live to work to 100 years. All it will do is make sure you are Just Over Broke (JOB). Sadly, this is the fate of many lulled to false security.

Math with Bad Drawings

On this humble brown planet, we’re used to things growing at a steady pace. Trees add a ring every year. Families expand by one child or marriage at a time. Even in their most extreme months of food-gobbling growth spurts, teenagers will sprout at most a few inches. All of these are examples of linear growth (or something close to it). It’s modest, approachable – something the human brain has no trouble grasping.

But not all growth is like this. Take the old story of the sultan and the beggar. The beggar comes before the sultan, pleading for some rice to eat. When the sultan asks how much he needs, the beggar cleverly points to a nearby chessboard. He asks the sultan to put 1 grain on the first square, 2 on the next, 4 on the next, 8 on the next, and so on, doubling the number of grains for…

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