# If You Fold A Paper In Half 103 Times It Will Get As Thick As The Universe

The myth: You can't fold a paper in half more than eight times.* The reality: Given a paper large enough — and enough energy — you can fold it as many times as you want. The problem: If you fold it 103 times, the thickness of your paper will be larger than the observable Universe: 93 billion light-years. Seriously.

### How can a 0.099mm-thick paper get to be as thick as the Universe?

The answer is simple: Exponential growth. The average paper thickness in 1/10th of a millimetre. If you perfectly fold the paper in half, you will double its thickness. Things get interesting quickly.

Folding the paper in half a third time will get you about the thickness of a nail.

Seven folds will be about the thickness of a notebook of 128 pages.

10 folds and the paper will be about the width of a hand.

23 folds will get you to one kilometre.

30 folds will get you to space. Your paper will be now 100km high.

Keep folding it. 42 folds will get you to the Moon. With 51 you will burn in the Sun.

Now fast forward to 81 folds and your paper will be 127,786 light-years, almost as thick as the Andromeda Galaxy, estimated at 141,000 light-years across.

90 folds will make your paper 130.8 million light-years across, bigger than the Virgo Supercluster, estimated at 110 million light-years. The Virgo Supercluster contains the Local Galactic Group — with Andromeda and our own Milky Way — and about 100 other galaxy groups.

And finally, at 103 folds, you will get outside of the observable Universe, which is estimated at 93 billion light-years in diameters.

Maths is wonderful, my friends. As much as the Universe itself.

And that's all I have to say.

* The current record is 12 times, done by Britney Gallivan.

So what's 0.0039-inches in real money?

This is Australia, guys, you could at least convert the measurements. And the weight of the paper for this "experiment" isn't given. Standard (Australian) A4 printer paper is 80 gsm. I'm sure US paper is a similar but slightly different weight (considering they'd do it in pounds per square foot or something). So where do we get the 103 folds from? Which one? Paper comes in varying weights and thicknesses....

Enquiring minds want to know.

Hey Molokov, conversions were made but that one was missed, it's been fixed, cheers.

Britney's record must have been done with a very thin and very large sheet of paper.
I've just tried and got to 8 folds with a piece of tissue paper. Wife got 6 folds with 80gsm A4 paper.

Last edited 20/07/14 2:25 pm

It was done with a rather large bit of paper and some seriously heavy machinery! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRAEBbotuIE

Wow, that is a BIG piece of paper, but they only got to 11 folds!

The reality: Given a paper large enough — and enough energy — you can fold it as many times as you want.

I cant see how this would work unless you developed paper that could stretch light years. At the 65 fold you have a thichness of at least 1 light year, when you fold this the paper on the inner edge would need to be folded with a thickness of 0.099mm which can be done but the paper on the outer edge would need to travel 1 light year to make the fold this could never be done.

That is not how the folding works though, even on a smaller scale. Normal paper does not stretch very much, but can be folded. It's about the geometry of the fold.

When you fold paper, the outside edge wraps around the inner layers and needs more paper to do so. Each inner layer needs less paper to make it around the curved path. But since all the paper was roughly the same length, there is excess paper from the inner layers that either has to be compressed, or effectively "pushed out" of the fold (or looking from the perspective of the inner papers, the outer ones are pulled back) .

Try it with a sheet of paper. With varying lengths used in the fold for each layer, the other ends of the paper don't line up anymore - the outer layers are shorter. If you don't force it flat, the inside paper wrinkles up. If the outer layers had to stretch, even an A4 sheet of paper would break before being able to be folded significantly.

On a universal scale, the difference in lengths over a 1 light year fold would be absorbed by the ability of the paper to slightly stretch and compress. Beyond that, wrinkles, differences in lengths at the end etc would happen, just like folding a smaller piece of paper.

Britney can fold MY paper any time she wants! Bom chicka wom bomm!!!!

I don't mean anything sexual by that, I just mean that she's clearly quite knowledgeable and skilled in the paper-folding area and by folding my paper it saves me from having to do it which would be jolly handy.

Everyone should do paper-folding activity once in a while. It keeps the heart strong.

Nice try, but you're off by like 9 billion light years.