It’s hard for humans to understand exponential growth. We often hear the phrase tossed around colloquially when discussing coronavirus’ infectiousness — and how it seemingly grew into a pandemic out of no time – but even if you excelled at high school algebra, chances are you’d have a hard time actually visualizing what that means.
The VFX artists over at Corridor have put together a video to explain why COVID-19’s exponential growth meant the pandemic took so many by surprise by using visual analogies.
In one example, they ask you to imagine doubling a sheet of paper one hundred times. How thick would such a stack of paper be?
In another example, they ask you to imagine a droplet of water doubling every minute while you’re on a trip to the grand canyon. When would you notice it, and after that, how long would you have to escape?
Go on, take your guesses before you watch the video:
Using these and other examples, the artists show why such exponential rates of infection are so hard for people to take seriously. Which is, of course, precisely why it should be taken seriously.
It’s far from the only YouTube video on the topic. For a more math-oriented explanation, I recommend you check out 3Blue1Brown‘s video on exponential and logistic growth.
Stay safe and socially distant, friends.