Rational vs. Irrational

Screenshot 2020-03-13 at 7.52.57 PMToday, March 14 is Pi Day (as in 3.14).  It seems like a math lesson is in order. That would be a rational thing to do.

On this, Albert Einstein’s birthday, let me share a lesson in exponential growth that many a school kid knows.

A young man applied for a job and was told that the business could not afford to pay him. The young man begged for the job and said he would work for very little. The businessman inquired as to how little he was willing to accept.

The young man said that he would work the whole day for a penny as long as the businessman agreed to double his pay to 2 cents the next day, and then 4 cents the next day, and so on each day for one month.

Without thinking the businessman accepted his offer, had the young man sign a contract, and put him to work.

On the 30th day of the month the young man earned $10,737,418.24. Not bad for a single day! His monthly income turned out to be a tidy $21,474,835.48!

I tell this story to emphasize the power of exponential growth and to remind people why compound interest works to their advantage over time.

This simple, yet often overlooked mathematical property, is the real reason why the spread of the COVID-19 infection must be subdued. Currently, the growth rate of the coronavirus in America is averaging 29.4% per day. In simple terms that means that if the growth rate remains the same that you can simply multiply the number of infectious cases today by 1.294 to approximate the number of new cases that would appear tomorrow. If that scenario continues than the bed capacity of all hospitals in the US would be surpassed. That is not a scenario that we can afford to play out.

I know you came here for the weather. I just thought that story was too important for you to not read. But, what do I know? In fact, what does anybody know? I saw our president shake hand after hand, after hand, after hand during his press briefing yesterday. Now, that seems irrational!

Today will be mostly sunny with a high temperature in the upper 50’s. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny as well, but a tad cooler.


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