Pandemic Pluses
Food Future
Material Factors
Entrepreneurial Shifts
Root Canals, Travel, and Some Speculation on the Future of COVID

The last year brought exponential growth in, among other things, use of the word “exponential.” It is now the go-to term when you want to say something is “growing super-fast.”

I've got to admit it's getting better (Better)
A little better all the time (It can't get no worse)
I have to admit it's getting better (Better)
It's getting better since you've been mine
Getting so much better all the time

—Getting Better, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, 1967, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album

The last year brought exponential growth in, among other things, use of the word “exponential.” It is now the go-to term when you want to say something is “growing super-fast.”

As humans, we tend to think in terms of linear growth—whatever is happening immediately around us in shorter time periods. Accelerating, exponential growth is harder to grasp. Exponential growth means the rate of growth increases with time, just like a car goes faster the more you press the gas pedal.

“Exponential” has become popular recently to describe the way a virus spreads, if nothing stops it. When one person infects two others, each of whom infects two others, who each infect two others and so on, the numbers can quickly get out of hand. Exponentially so.

But exponential growth isn’t always scary. Compound interest is exponential and we all enjoy it (when we’re the lender, at least). Moore’s Law, which says the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years, is another example of extremely useful exponential growth. The chart below starts in 1970, but Moore made the observation in 1965.


Source: Our World in Data

The number of transistors on a microchip “only” doubles every two years. But that took it from 1,000 transistors to 50 billion in 50 years. Literally, 50 million times more powerful.