Sunday, April 12, 2015

The 29th Day

In ancient India, the inventor of chess showed his game to the King, who was so pleased with the invention, the King announced that he would grant the inventor anything he desired. The inventor sat in silence thoughtfully, then replied that he merely wanted some rice to feed his family. To determine how much rice he would receive, they would use the chessboard square as a counter. The inventor suggested that, for the first square, he would receive one grain of rice, two for the second square, four for the third square, doubling each the amount for each successive square. The King laughed at this seemingly modest request and immediately accepted, tasking his treasurer with calculating the entire amount to grant the inventor. Weeks went by without hearing from his treasurer until one day, the King summoned his treasurer and asked why there was such a delay. When the treasurer showed him the total sum exceeded the rice count of his entire kingdom, the King was bankrupted and the inventor became the new King.What was the total amount?

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18,446,744,073,709,551,615 or 18 quintillion

This heap of rice would be larger than Mt Everest.

There is a pond with invasive water lilies. The water lily population doubles each day and if left unchecked, will cover the entire pond in 30 days, smothering all other life in the pond. Each day, the caretaker of the pond checks the population, and will only take action to cut the water lily population when they have covered only half the pond.

On what day will the pond be half-covered?

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The 29th day. This leaves the pond caretaker only 1 day to save the pond.

Exponential growth, or compounded growth, is a very powerful thing. Positive things like savings, investment, networks and technological innovation can bring incredible improvements to one's life, if allowed to compound without interruption. On the flip side, if left unchecked, dangerous things like inflation, debts, diseases or even dangerous ideologies can sneak up on you so quickly that you won't notice until it's too late.

Don't wait until the 29th day.


Andy
az2123[AT]caa.columbia.edu
New York, NY

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