The previous year, humans were busy finding solutions to various problems. Three problems among them are- Forest Fires, the COVID pandemic, and Cancer Cells. Surprisingly, there is something common between the spread of these three phenomena. The math behind their spread is exponential!
A human brain is good at visualizing linear growth. If we see a bull racing towards us, we could estimate the approximate time it would take to hit us. A batsman in cricket or baseball estimates the time a ball will take to reach him. Our brain starts losing the estimation game when the opponent is exponential. For example, we can visualize the height of 42 sheets of paper(0.1 mm thick) kept one over another. However, we can not visualize the height of folding one sheet 42 times in half. The thickness becomes more than the distance from the earth to the moon! (0.1 mm * 2^42 = 439,000 km). I have computed the thickness hundreds of times, and it surprises my brain every single time. Our brain is not wired to visualize exponential growth. We can visualize 0.1 * 42 easily but have a hard time grasping 0.1 * 2^42.
The COVID pandemic spread is an exponential phenomenon, where one carrier spreads the virus to others and the chain grows from thereon. The forest fires and cancer cells grow at an exponential rate. The reason these phenomena are so dangerous is associated with the inability of the human brain to grasp their speed of growth. You might have heard finance gurus talking about the power of compound interest. Fundamentally, compound interest is a means to grow your money exponentially. And that is why most people underestimate its power.
That’s how Knowledge Works: It Builds up, like compound interestWarren Buffet
What was the last time exponential growth blew your mind? Was it the story of a king and the chess inventor?