I may have accidentally caused the whole toilet paper shortage in America.
It started like this. On our family’s social messaging group my one cousin, who lives in London, shared a photo of empty store shelves.
Then another cousin, who lives in New Zealand did it too.
If there is too little paper at the top end as well as the bottom end of the world, it’s just a matter of time before there is a shortage on my end of the world too, I told myself.
So, I went to the store and bought toilet paper.
A lot of toilet paper.
Don’t exaggerate. You didn’t cause the whole shortage; you might be thinking.
Imagine my story … multiplied by a million
But imagine my story is true, only multiplied by a few million times. No wonder the lack of toilet paper is acute all over the world.
Two famous people who were clearly not on the same social messaging group were Isaac Newton and Gottlieb Leibnitz.
How do we know?
Because both of them developed Calculus at the same time. Neither one of them realized the other one was onto the exact same concept.
They used different math, but basically … same idea.
Afterwards, the two would fight terribly over whose idea it was first.
These days historians agree the two of them should share the honor of coming up with the brilliant tool that is Calculus.
Corona, calculus and quarantine
How and where Newton developed his version of Calculus is quite interesting in these days of Corona.
In 1665, an epidemic broke out in London. The Black Death, as it was known, occurred for the first time in 1331 in China. For more than 300 years, by coming and going, it claimed millions of lives. It was spread by fleas living on rats.
When it flared up again in 1665, people were told to leave London. A short distance from London, the University of Cambridge was also closed. One of the students affected by this decision was Isaac Newton, 23 years old.
He had just completed his bachelor’s degree, but now had to go back to his hometown, about a hundred miles from Cambridge.
Granted, and if the story is true, he spent some days just sitting around under the apple trees watching the apples fall. But for these two years he had to spend at home, he worked hard on his three major theories that would make him famous – about how planets move, about light and about color.
Apples apparently helped. So did dividing everything into really small bits
The falling apples apparently helped accelerate his insight. But he also needed a way to better understand something big and complex by breaking it down into thousands of small parts. That’s where Calculus comes into the picture.
I hope there are geniuses on all seven continents working on an antidote for Corona right now. They don’t even have to know about each other. And we can sort out who gets the Nobel prize later.
The outbreak of plague in Newton’s lifetime was the last one. Although it would have helped quite a bit today, we do not know exactly how the disease was eventually eradicated.
One story is that the Great Fire of 1666 in London destroyed it. Unfortunately, that’s not true.
Apparently, the same things they are telling us to do at the moment stopped the Black Plague: proper quarantine measures and better personal hygiene.
So, wash your hands and keep other people at a distance.
But be thankful for social messaging apps that allow you to keep in touch with your family around the world. Even if all the contact could cause toilet paper shortages.
How to stay connected, even when there is social distancing
Perhaps the social distancing and stress are making you realize how many deficits there are in your relationships. After all, having contact with other humans is causing the corona crisis and the shortage of toilet paper. But we still need it. Crave it even.
Newton did something great in his life in his time of forced quarantine. He also discovered that if you split up a problem in small enough parts, you get a better handle on it.
How about you?
Let me help you break the problem in small enough parts to fix it.
This time could be a time you make a break-through in your life. Like it was for Newton.