Exponential Growth and Decay

  • Russell K. Hobbie
  • Bradley J. Roth


The exponential function is one of the most important and widely occurring functions in physics and biology. In biology, it may describe the growth of bacteria or animal populations, the decrease of the number of bacteria in response to a sterilization process, the growth of a tumor, or the absorption or excretion of a drug. (Exponential growth cannot continue forever because of limitations of nutrients, etc.) Knowledge of the exponential function makes it easier to understand birth and death rates, even when they are not constant. In physics, the exponential function describes the decay of radioactive nuclei, the emission of light by atoms, the absorption of light as it passes through matter, the change of voltage or current in some electrical circuits, the variation of temperature with time as a warm object cools, and the rate of some chemical reactions.


Decay Rate Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia Exponential Growth Exponential Function Saving Account 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Russell K. Hobbie
    • 1
  • Bradley J. Roth
    • 2
  1. 1.Professor of Physics, Emeritus University of Minnesota
  2. 2.Associate Professor of Physics Oakland UniversityOakland

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