Using VFX to Explain Why COVID-19 Surprised Everyone

published on July 20, 2020

oh great you are back what a relief I trust that you were responsible right you know masks six-feet treat everything he touches if it's raw chicken yeah it's pretty scary out there though huh how do we even get to this point it seems like

It was just a few weeks ago when we didn't even know to take this whole thing serious if I'm hanging out calendars rings for this exact pose it's cuz it has only been a few weeks to keep it then right well listen there are

Dozens of reasons why this is snowballed into a global pandemic but I'm not really qualified to talk about Mosul but there is something I could talk about if you're up for it its exponential growth it is really really hard for human

Beings to understand exponential growth most people don't understand what an exponential is when you say something is expanding exponentially so you take 100 you get a thousand and get 10,000 our intuition isn't really capable of

Understanding exponential growth and the irony is that it's actually fairly easy to understand on paper it's not harden math I mean it's no vector calculus or differential equations or taxes it's just raising a number like 2 to the

Power of another number you know squared cubed 2 to the power of 4 we rarely have need for exponents larger than this so what if we raise 2 to the power of 100 here is a classic sheet of paper nothing remarkable about

It if I was to double this I'd have two sheets of paper if I was a double this again I'd have four again and I'd have eight so on and so forth you get the idea so what if I doubled this a hundred

Times how thick would that stack of paper be don't calculate the answer what is your gut tell you we go straight from the gut old-school quarter crew fans might recognize when I asked my coworkers this

Exact question 10 for 10 to 15 feet probably get these buildings 2 feet 200 feet ok probably like a freakin least the distance of the state of Texas or something else outrageous that is pretty

Dang outrageous 500 meters 5 meters yeah okay here's a hint how far into outer space will it go oh my god at 10 doublings the stack of paper would be 10 centimeters tall but just 5 doublings later you wouldn't be able to stack it

In your house at 20 doublings the stack of paper would stretch across an entire soccer pitch at 30 doublings it would officially reach outer space stretching over a hundred kilometers straight up to get to the moon we would just need 12

More doublings on top of that so what about a hundred doublings I bet you're prepared for a pretty large number but trust me you're really not this stack would be so tall the only way to measure it would be in lightyears 13 billion

Light-years that's the 500 meters man the thing about exponential growth is that most of the growth happens at the last moment it's what gives graphs like this that hottest England and in the case of

Doublings literally half of the total amount was gained at the final step no matter which step you're on in fact at this virus's current rate of spread in the next four months it will have infected one trillion people wait a

Minute okay okay so technically the spread of this virus actually follows what's called a logistic curve as more people use social distancing or die there are fewer people the virus can infect and the rate of infection begins

To decrease this is called the inflection point and is the peak of the curves we're trying to flatten right now but this still doesn't explain why most people are surprised by how fast this pandemic is spreading so here's a final

Example the Grand Canyon is the largest canyon on the planet it's 277 miles long and has a volume of a thousand cubic miles you could pour every single River on earth and to the Grand Canyon and still only fill half of it

A water droplet on the other hand contains point zero five milliliters of water a miniscule amount but in this example as every minute that goes by this droplet doubles in size two drops four drops eight

I'm sure you've caught on by now that it'll eventually fill up the entire Canyon and you'd be right but how long will that take imagine this you're finishing up a hike down in the Grand Canyon you get word

That 20 minutes ago a magic drop of water started doubling its size every single minute that's weird even your Grandpa's never heard of that happening in his entire life but in the 20 minutes since it

Started it's only gotten to the size of a couple jugs of water um okay you shrug and move on with your hike another 15 minutes go by when you get a warning alert on your phone the park is now in emergency lockdown and everyone has to

Evacuate immediately the water has now reached the size of an Olympic swimming pool you are already heading back to your car but this is ridiculous kind of a danger does a swimming pool represent have they forgotten that

You're in the Grand Canyon sure I mean if you hurried you can get out quicker but it's a nice day out and what about your freedom finally an hour has gone by since the water droplet began to double and you finally notice it you're nearing

The top of the canyon but you can see it way down there at the bottom at the 60 minute mark the water droplet has now overtaken the volume of the Colorado River littoral alarms are now blaring everyone's panicking people are being

Airlifted to safety but they don't have room for you it took an hour for the water to reach a point where you could finally see it how much more time until the water fills the entire canyon the answer six minutes you've now run out of

Time to escape now obviously this is an absurd scenario but you could probably see the parallels with the spread of the current pandemic fortunately it is not as bad as my examples might make it seem however it

Is indeed proving to be a world-changing event that not enough people took seriously soon enough perhaps now you understand the importance of the unprecedented measures currently locking down society you see it was never going

To seem like it was that bad until it was it's really hard to say where we'll be in the near future are we nearing an inflection point and things will start going back to normal soon or are we sitting in a canyon watching the water

Level slowly rise I wish I could answer that but I can't the only way we'll beat this is by stepping up individually be responsible and even though we're all apart we'll make it through this together

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