How Folding Paper Can Get You to the Moon


How many times can you
fold a piece of paper? Assume that one had a piece
of paper that was very fine, like the kind they typically
use to print the Bible. In reality, it seems like a piece of silk. To qualify these ideas, let’s say you have a paper that’s one-thousandth
of a centimeter in thickness. That is 10 to the power
of minus three centimeters, which equals .001 centimeters. Let’s also assume that you have
a big piece of paper, like a page out of the newspaper. Now we begin to fold it in half. How many times do you think
it could be folded like that? And another question: If you could fold the paper over and over,
as many times as you wish, say 30 times, what would you imagine
the thickness of the paper would be then? Before you move on, I encourage you to actually think
about a possible answer to this question. OK. After we have folded the paper once, it is now two thousandths
of a centimeter in thickness. If we fold it in half once again, the paper will become
four thousandths of a centimeter. With every fold we make,
the paper doubles in thickness. And if we continue to fold
it again and again, always in half, we would confront
the following situation after 10 folds. Two to the power of 10, meaning that you multiply
two by itself 10 times, is one thousand and
24 thousandths of a centimeter, which is a little bit over one centimeter. Assume we continue folding
the paper in half. What will happen then? If we fold it 17 times, we’ll get a thickness
of two to the power of 17, which is 131 centimeters, and that equals just over four feet. If we were able to fold it 25 times, then we would get two to the power of 25, which is 33,554 centimeters, just over 1,100 feet. That would make it almost
as tall as the Empire State Building. It’s worthwhile to stop here
and reflect for a moment. Folding a paper in half, even a paper
as fine as that of the Bible, 25 times would give us a paper
almost a quarter of a mile. What do we learn? This type of growth
is called exponential growth, and as you see, just by folding a paper we can go very far, but very fast too. Summarizing, if we fold a paper 25 times, the thickness is almost
a quarter of a mile. 30 times, the thickness reaches 6.5 miles, which is about the average
height that planes fly. 40 times, the thickness
is nearly 7,000 miles, or the average GPS satellite’s orbit. 48 times, the thickness
is way over one million miles. Now, if you think that the distance
between the Earth and the Moon is less than 250,000 miles, then starting with a piece of Bible paper and folding it 45 times,
we get to the Moon. And if we double it one more time, we get back to Earth.

100 thoughts on “How Folding Paper Can Get You to the Moon

  1. Then you realize that the actual physical limit of folding a paper is about 7-8 folds. And then there's the fact that the width and length of the thing itself would also exponentialy decrease as the height increases. And that's not even considering other forces such as gravity.

  2. With just 100 paper folds, my paper is 1 nonillion meters. And this is assuming my paper is about 10th of a centimeter. It would be 100 octillion meters if it was fine paper.

  3. Actually it is not possible with given technology at our disposal to fold a paper in half more than 7 times.Try it and see!!!

    Also use metric system 😤

  4. Sadly, the most you can fold a paper and not be able to fold it again cuz… Thick. Is about 7 times.

  5. this is similar to if you double the amount of money you have each day starting from $0.01, it would take 27 days to become a millionaire

  6. World record of folding paper:

    1st:11 folds
    2nd:9 folds
    3rd YOUTUBER;d4rkframe:8 folds

    I FORGOT ONE!

    10000000000000000000000th:me 7 folds just like every others

  7. I know this principle in stock market works in the same way 10X you are going to have 1 million dollar if you invest 1000 dollar

  8. Me: “Mom I learned something new today!

    Mom: What is it?

    Me: I can get to the moon

    Mom: Its not that easy how are you going to do that?

    Me: Holds bible

  9. TED-Ed: If you fold it 30 times what would the thickness be?

    Me: Gone. Reduced to atoms.

    (If you fold it so much it also becomes smaller)

  10. The thing is the width and length decreases the height is the only this that increases so at some points we can't even see the paper

  11. So what you're trying to say is you want to build a stack of papers that are each being folded…

    And you want us to do that until we reach space even though we can't really go outside into space when there is no oxygen

  12. My friend thinks it's a lie..😡😡 like come on… How can you get her to believe science?? I don't know how and she says nothing istaller that empire state building and there obviously taller things

  13. new challenge -> eat and never sh*t = how much will the one grow? if you dont sh*t 89 days you will grow 650 ft and that is where you can beat the champ

  14. i consider that the way of calculate thickness in this film is wrong. when the paper's hardness is enough to support upper half,it will have a height at the bend.

  15. But its not an accurate representation of the size of the paper, after just 7 folds it become very small. Folding it 46 times would make it MICROSCOPIC

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