How many Paper Folds are needed to get to the Moon?

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I stumbled upon an article on a blog (on codersrevolution.com) and apparently there are several YouTube videos about it. But, even for something so well known, it had a shocking revelation. And it is surprising how well connected it is to your CAT coaching process.

How many times do you need to fold a normal paper, which is about 0.1 mm thick, so that it reaches the moon? So when you fold it once, it becomes 0.2 mm thick. One more fold, and it will be a 0.4 mm thick and so on.

Given that the moon is around 4 lakh kilometers from the earth, it would seem that an extremely high number of folds would be needed – at least a few 100, if not 1000s.

The answer may shock you as well. All it would take for a 0.1 mm paper to reach the moon is 42 folds. Incredible! Isn’t it? One can cover the distance to the moon by folding a 0.1 mm paper a mere 42 times. (It is another matter that folding a paper beyond 8 times or so is incredibly difficult – I bet you are eager to try it out).

Even more interestingly, it takes 36 folds to cover just 1% of the distance. The remaining 99% of the distance is covered in the last 6 folds flat.

Our brains aren’t trained to see the impact beyond the first few folds. This is stunning, yet true. We generally think linearly and not exponentially. We ignore how efforts, when sustained, can have a multiplicative (or compounding) impact.

And this is true not just about distance between earth and moon, or the amount of wealth you intend to accumulate and the concept of compounding (which I believe Lokesh sir delves into in his intro sessions) – it is true about efforts and results too.

The number of times we give up after 20 or 30 folds worth of effort is astonishing. A very similar thing happens even when we start enthusiastically at the very best CAT Coaching institute, but start to feel a little lost when we don’t really see the progress we want to see at say the 50% or the 70% mark of our CAT prep completion.

If only we can carry compounding our efforts till the 42nd fold! If we only we didn’t quit before the last 6 folds that cover 99% of the distance! Even the moon would be within the grasp of our efforts.

About the author: Deekshant has sleep-walked through several 100 and 99.9 %iles in practically every section of the CAT. That he is a cricket fan and he writes okay is evident from most of his posts. 1000s of our students swear that he can motivate almost anyone to double his/her percentile through very simple yet powerful inputs. And that’s why every MBAGuru student has direct access to him via mail and Telegram. Oddly, he somehow also finds the time to write songs professionally. And yes … almost missed this … he is an alumnus of IIT Delhi & IIM Cal 🙂

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