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A story with a moral, or when not to add water!

Listening to the endless chatter about coronavirus, COVID19, I was struck by the number of commentators who have been talking about the growth of the virus in the community as being exponential.

One, less than helpful, definition of exponential is this :

“Exponential growth is a specific way that a quantity may increase over time. It occurs when the instantaneous rate of change (that is, the derivative) of a quantity with respect to time is proportional to the quantity itself.”

Perhaps a more useful illustration of exponential growth is the rice on the chessboard equation.

The myth tells us that an ancient sage (picture Rupert Murdoch if you will) invented the chessboard and the game of chess and presented it to the Emperor (picture Donald Trump – with or without clothes – if you must ) and the Emperor was so taken by this invention that he offered the ancient sage anything he wanted as a reward for his ingenuity.

Rupert, the ancient sage, never being one to miss an opportunity, asked the Emperor only for one grain of rice, placed on the first square of the chessboard, two grains on the next, four on the next ; doubling until all sixty-four squares were covered. The Emperor who was not necessarily the sharpest knife in the drawer eagerly agreed to this request thinking what a great deal he had done – after all he was the greatest deal-maker in the world !

So the Palace (White House) servants started to apply the grains of rice, doubling square by square on the chessboard as instructed by the Emperor, who had gone off to play a round golf as was his custom.

Around the eleventh hole – his card prepared the night before showed that he had scored a hole-in-one on the 3rd and 5th – the Emperor received a tweet telling him that a problem had arisen and that the the West Wing of the Palace had collapsed under the weight of rice exuding from the Oval Office.

The Emperor was the victim of exponential growth and the remorseless application of compounding maths : as explained by this YouTube video.

This application of exponential growth had led to the sixty-fourth and final square of the chessboard having some eighteen quintillion grains of rice stacked on it : or the equivalent of 210 billion tonnes of rice which is quite a lot when you consider that global rice production for 2019 was around 500 million tonnes.

So the moral of this story resides in what happened next and, as with all fables there was a happy ending, depending on your point of view.

The ancient sage who we are calling ‘Rupert’ contracted the virus as did the Emperor who we are calling ‘Donald’. When they presented at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta Georgia they were subjected to triaging along with the rest of the population and as they were both over sixty-five they were turned away in favour of younger patients : so they both died !

Don’t forget to wash your hands, folks.

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11 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    We could only hope…….

  2. RosemaryJ36

    Unfortunately, in the USA, money buys anything.

  3. DrakeN

    Alas, Rosemary, money cannot buy happiness!
    [ But it can help you to be miserable in comfort 😉 ]

  4. Pingback: A story with a moral, or when not to add water! #newsoz.org #auspol – News Oz

  5. Win Jeavons

    Mathematical chaos is a far better model for such diseases. It also leaves room for surprises.

  6. Olivia Manor

    What a great ending! If only….

  7. New England Cocky

    “So they both died”. Amen to that.

  8. Socrates.

    Yes, hope is reborn eternal…

  9. Andrew Smith

    Where is Murdoch nowadays, the guy with the chip on his shoulder, who was denied entry to the elite Melbourne based private schools e.g. Scotch College (attending the western district graziers’ Geelong Grammar instead, which Fraser did not even attend, but Melbourne Grammar instead), after his father’s WWI anti-Semitism towards Monash (an old Scotch Collegian)?

  10. wam

    A beautiful piece waltz, emphasizing the ignorance of announcers.
    The sage got his reward in execution for embarrassing the emperor. A bit like Kerry’s job disappearing after the rabbott’s ‘I’m no tech-head’ embarrassment over peak download. If only albo can get us to laugh at the stupidity of smirko and the deniers.
    A Darwin footie team Nightcliff won the flag in 1964/5 and again in 2018/19. If a supporter had bet $1 for the tigers to win in 1965/6 and doubled up each year the winning bet would have been 2 to the power of 54 ie billions to win $1. Einstein got many things right including “those who understand compound interest earn it those who don’t pay it”.
    ps
    It looks like Italy’s policy for selecting who gets hospital treatment is working and the elderly are disappearing. I would imagine smirko will have a secret set of policies for hospitals to keep beds for the elite?
    The question should be ‘do you believe in god? If so so go home and pray.
    pps My darling has bought rubber gloves for my pokies excursions and we keep a machine apart.

  11. Kronomex

    Terence, I was going to reply but seeing that photo made me feel too violently ill to comment.

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