17 Exponential Growth Examples in Real Life

Exponential Growth

Exponential growth is a pattern of data that shows a sharp increase over time. The graph of exponentially growing data is generally plotted on a logarithmic scale. There are a number of domains that make use of the concept of exponential growth for research and growth purposes such as biology, finance, mathematics, economics, business, management, etc.

Examples of Exponential Growth

1. Spread of Virus

The spread of a virus generally follows exponential growth. This can best be observed by looking at the spread of a viral disease. The virus causing the disease gets transferred from the carrier person to the people and objects that he/she come in contact with, thereby increasing the number of people infected by it. The number of infected people increases gradually at a fast rate, and the growth is undoubtedly exponential in nature.

Spread of Virus

2. Finance

One of the best examples of exponential growth can be found in the finance domain. For instance, a saving account that is applied with an annual compound interest tends to give exponential returns to the account holder. This helps the owner obtain a large amount of capital even with a small investment. Similarly, economic growth is yet another example of exponential growth in real life.


3. Nuclear Chain Reactions

A number of chemical reactions undergo exponential growth. For instance, when the nucleus of a uranium atom gets bombarded by neutrons externally, each nucleus gets broken into two congruent parts. This reaction is highly exothermic and releases a huge amount of heat into the environment. The two split parts of the parent nucleus split further, and the process goes on and on. This leads to a chain of nuclear fission reactions that continue till the sample uranium element gets thoroughly consumed. The energy released by such nuclear reactions is quite high, approximately equal to 200 mega electron volts.

Nuclear Chain Reactions

4. Pyramid Schemes

Pyramid marketing schemes are also known as Ponzi schemes. They comprise a business model that involves recruiting members that are paid on the basis of the number of members they further enrol. Every enrolled member tends to recruit new members under their vigilance. This multiplies the number of members in the organization at every step. Hence, multi-level marketing schemes constitute a classic example of exponential growth in real life.

Pyramid Schemes

5. Bacterial Growth 

One of the best examples of exponential growth in real life can be seen by looking at the multiplication of bacteria in a culture. Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that cannot be seen by the naked eye. They are present in almost every living or non-living object present on the earth and are capable of surviving extreme temperature and pressure conditions. Bacteria reproduce with the help of a process called binary fission in which the parent cell gets divided into two daughter cells. The daughter cells further get divided into two cells each. The process goes on and on, thereby displaying an exponential growth of bacteria in a short time.

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6. Circulation of Data on the Internet

The internet provides a wide space to share information. The circulation of data on the internet is typically exponential in nature as the data gets passed on from one person to the other, the recipients of the content further pass on the information to multiple users, and the process goes on and on. This is the reason why extraction or deletion of information from the internet is a next to impossible task.

Circulation of Data on the Internet

7. Moore’s Law

Moore’s law is named after the co-founder of Intel Gordon E. Moore. It represents the ideology and observation made by Gordon E. Moore that the number of transistors used to make a microchip gets doubled every year. This means that keeping a yearly record of the number of transistors used by microchips display an exponential curve and represents the exponential growth of microprocessors.

Moore's Law

8. Human Population 

The concept of exponential growth can be best understood by observing the growth of the human population. According to the recent survey conducted in the year 2019, the world’s population had reached 7,673,533,974, and it is growing exponentially at a fast rate.

Human Population 

9. Food Spoilage 

Food spoilage is generally caused due to the action of microorganisms like fungi, bacteria, yeast, etc. The process of microbial spoilage generally depends on temperature, moisture, and other factors that escalate the growth of deterioration causing microorganisms. The multiplication or growth of such microbes is exponential in nature. However, the rate at which food items gets spoiled can be reduced by processes such as salting and smoking.

Food Spoilage

10. Patient Count during a Pandemic 

A pandemic is an epidemic that gets spread to more than one continent and affects people on a global scale. If you look at the number of patients getting infected by a certain disease during the pandemic, you can easily observe that every day the number of new patients get added up with the number of existing patients. This process gets repeated the next day, and so on, thereby clearly demonstrating exponential growth.

Patient Count during a Pandemic 

11. Weed Growth

Weed growth is yet another example of exponential growth in real life. Weeds are unwanted plants that grow and consume the nutrients of the desirable plants. They grow at a rapid rate following the exponential pattern of growth. If the growth of weeds is not artificially controlled, they can cover up the whole area in a small amount of time. Processes like weeding are used to eliminate weeds from a particular place.

Weed Growth

12. Cancerous Cells

If a healthy cell of a human body comes in contact with the infected or cancerous cell, cancer or infection tends to spread, thereby turning the healthy body cells into cancerous cells. This process of passing the infection to the neighbouring cells clearly represents an exponential growth that goes on and on till artificial processes such as laser surgery, radiotherapy, etc., are used to alter or damage the chain of the cancerous cells.

Cancerous Cells

13. Fire

Fire is one of the most destructive phenomena in nature. Fire spreads at a rapid rate because there exists an exponential relationship between the fire and the combustible objects. A combustible object ignited with fire tends to light the objects present in the surrounding. The newly lit elements transfer the energy to their neighbouring objects and set them on fire as well. The number of objects under the influence of fire multiplies after every instant of time, thereby displaying exponential growth in real life.


14. Sales of a Popular Product

The market is one of the most popular places to observe the concept of exponential growth in real life. If you pick up a graph plotted between the sale of a popular product with respect to time, you can observe that the sales curve is flat in the beginning, it tends to grow gradually and shoots up after a certain amount of time. This clearly represents an exponential curve.

Sales of a Popular Product

15. Rice on the Chess Board

Rice on the chessboard is an ancient story that involves the concept of exponential growth. It involves a sage demanding his winning price in terms of rice grains. The rice grains are required to be arranged in such a way that the first block of the chessboard contains one grain of rice, the second block contains two grains, the third block has four grains, and so on. This means that each block of the chessboard contains the number of grains, which is exactly double the number of grains present on the previous block. This means that the number of grains tends to increase exponentially, and the last block of the chess contains 9 * {10} ^ {18} grains of rice.

Rice on the Chess Board

16. Water Lily 

A lily pad placed in a pond or a lake tends to start the reproduction procedure as soon as the favourable conditions required for the process are met. If a lily pad reproduces an offspring once a day, the quantity of the lily pads would double every day. This means that if you observe the water body on the second day, the number of lilies present in it would be two. On the third day, the count would reach four, on the fourth day it would be sixteen, and so on. After a week, the numeric count of the lilies in the water body would reach up to 128, and it continues to grow in a similar manner. Hence, it clearly follows exponential growth.

Water Lily 

17. Folding a Paper

If you take a piece of paper with a thickness equal to 0.001 cm and begin to fold it in half, you can observe that after folding it once, the thickness gets doubled and increases to 0.002 cm. On folding it again, the paper becomes 0.004 cm thick. After ten folds, the thickness of the paper becomes 1.024 cm. After 25 folds, the thickness of the paper would be 33,554 cm or 1,100 ft. The exponential growth in the paper thickness can be observed quite easily. However, a fine piece of paper can only undergo twelve folds. You can try and check it by yourself.

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