Consider the thickness of a piece of standard binder paper - pretty thin - about 3/1000 (or 0.003) of an inch thick. Imagine tearing it in half and stacking up the two halves; now it's twice as thick but still pretty thin. Now tear it in half a second time and stack up the four pieces - then imagine tearing and stacking again and again until you have done so 50 times. IF you could do this 50 times how thick would the stack be?
This is the extra credit my students are working on this weekend.
In class I had them make a guess; their guesses ranged from 1 inch to 1 foot. They were being so conservative that I said, "I submit to you that it will be 5 million miles thick." After getting looks of shock I said, "Your extra credit assignment is to prove me wrong - or prove me right. It's due Monday."
What do you think the answer is? Was I just lying to get them interested? Am I right or wrong? If I'm wrong, by how much?