2 — At The Double

Episode two of A Further Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

We all remember the story of the Persian who invented chess and who asked to be paid with 1 grain of rice on the first square, 2 on the second, 4 on the third and so on, doubling all the way to the 64th square. He bankrupted the state!

This doubling is a form of exponential growth, which appears in everything from population growth to financial inflation to the inflation theory that supposedly caused the Big Bang.

Possibly related…

1. 2 — At The Double

Episode two of A Further Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

We all remember the story of the Persian who invented chess and who asked to be paid with 1 grain of rice on the first square, 2 on the second, 4 on the third and so on, doubling all the way to the 64th square. He bankrupted the state!

This doubling is a form of exponential growth, which appears in everything from population growth to financial inflation to the inflation theory that supposedly caused the Big Bang.

2. The Number Four

Episode one of Another Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

Simon Singh’s journey begins with the number 4, which for over a century has fuelled one of the most elusive problems in mathematics: is it true that any map can be coloured with just 4 colours so that no two neighbouring countries have the same colour? This question has tested some of the most imaginative minds — including Lewis Carroll’s — and the eventual solution has aided the design of some of the world’s most complex air and road networks.

3. A Countdown to Zero

Episode one of Five Numbers, the BBC radio series presented by Simon Singh.

What’s 2 minus 2? The answer is obvious, right? But not if you wore a tunic, no socks and lived in Ancient Greece. For strange as it sounds, ‘nothing’ had to be invented, and then it took thousands of years to catch on.