"With love all things are possible. This paper has been sent to you for good luck. The original is in New England. It has been around the world nine times. You will receive good luck within four days of receiving this letter provided you, in turn, send it on. Please send 20 copies and see what happens in four days." Chances are you've received a "chain letter" like this, perhaps from a well-meaning friend. You may even have been tempted to forward it. The copy I received came with a cover note saying, "For obvious reasons, I wouldn't dare not pass it on." But I know that the vast majority of recipients have ignored the instructions. How do I know? If everyone had followed the law of the letter, you and I and the rest of the world would be buried in copies. The math isn't hard to figure. Consider, for instance, that 20 copies of the letter are to be sent out within four days of receipt. So, on the first mailing, 20 copies hit the street. Four days later, each of those 20 recipients sends copies to 20 "friends," providing a wave of mail consisting of 20 x 20 = 400 pieces. The chart below shows what happens for the next month: Mailing Day

Number of Copies 1

1

20 2

4

20 x 20 = 400 3

8

20 x 20 x 20 = 8,000 4

12

20 X 20 X 20 X 20 = 160,000 5

16

20 X 20 X 20 X 20 X 20 = 3.2 million 6

20

20 (6X) = 64 million 7

24

20(7X) = 1.3 billion 8

28