by Matthew Cobb
This little calculation popped up in my Twitter feed from Savraj Grewal. TL;DR: a single E. coli cell, if left alone and with unlimited food/space, would in three days produce a sphere of bacteria the size of the solar system, expanding at faster than the speed of light…
The calculation is by Pat O’Farrell and is taken from a recent article.
I remember doing a similar calculation, but with houseflies. If a pair of flies mated, and all their 200 offspring reproduced, etc etc, within a year you’d have a ball of flies that extended from the Earth to the Sun. Can’t find my working, but I’m sure it must be about right.
Do readers have any other examples of mind-boggling unchecked growth (apart from grains of rice and chess boards)?