paper folding

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magma210 | 16:06 Wed 04th Oct 2006 | Science
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if i (i know it is impossible) could fold a sheet of newspaper in half 40 times how thick would the newspaper be?


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Each fold doubles the number of layers so 40 folds would give you 2^40 layers.

2^40 = 1,099,511,627,776

so it will be 1,099,511,627,776 times thicker than one sheet of the paper.
Surely that wikipedia answer is wrong. I can't be bothered to try it, because I have, several hundred times before now, as i'm sure every child has, tried to fold a piece of paper in half more than 8 times. Don't think I ever made 7 proper folds. 12 folds(!) is that some mathematical jigger-pokery? If not I'd like to see a video of some high school junior fold the same piece of paper in half 12 times.
After folding a full open page sheet (~4sqft) of newspaper eight times I ended up with roughly a one inch cube which I was able to compress in a vice to nearly one-half inch in thickness. Assuming it would be possible to continue folding this lump thirty-two more times it would have a "thickness" greater than the circumference of the Earth.
An ordinary sheet of paper is about 0.1 mm thick, so 1,100,000,000,000 layers would be about 110,000 km or 70,000 miles.

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