If you fold a sheet of paper 42 times, it will be tall enough to touch the moon

ašer folding 7 times
ašer folding 7 times

Mean distance from the Earth is about 384,000 km, or about 3.84 x 10^12 pages away. So you’d expect that you’ll need an awful lot of foldings to get there, right? Well, hang on for a second.

When I start with an unfolded page (zero foldings), it’s one page thick. When I fold a page once, it will be 2 pages thick. But — and this is key — when I fold it twice on itself, it’s not three, but 4 pages thick.

If I fold it a third time, I’ll see that it’s 8 pages thick. Can you see a pattern here? Paper folding is exponential, so that if I fold it a fourth time, it’ll be 16 pages thick (so that option is clearly wrong), a fifth time will give me 32 pages thick, and so on. By time I get to 9 foldings, my folded paper is bigger than my original ream of 500 sheets. By time I get to 20 foldings, my folded paper is more than 10 kilometers high, which surpasses Mt. Everest. 41 foldings will get me slightly more than halfway to the Moon, so that means that 42 foldings is all it takes!’

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And here’s something even cooler:

‘Incredibly, it only takes 42 foldings of a paper to get from the Earth to the Moon, and only about 94 foldings of a paper to make something the size of the entire visible Universe!’

Pretty awesome isn’t it? Well then, why hasn’t it been done yet? Seems fairly straightforward. That’s because it is impossible to fold a paper more than seven or eight times, no matter how thin the paper is  Go ahead and try!