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Serial Escalation: Real Life
  • This is a key principle behind exercise. You have to gradually make things more difficult (increase the weight or reps, run farther and faster, etc.) in order for your body to keep improving. If you do the same exercise at the same intensity too long, you'll eventually stop seeing a benefit. Thus, a weight loss plan could be seen as Serial Escalation.
  • How many blades can they fit onto a razor before it just becomes too ridiculous (well... MORE ridiculous)?
  • The Fashion Industry: What ridiculous creation will be touted as "the next big thing"? How obscenely emaciated must the models be before they can even audition? How Ambiguously Gay can the designers be before they create a black hole of Camp?
    • European fashion shows now have minimum weight requirements.
  • How much More Dakka can a Nerf gun have? If they get much more powerful you'll need a license to carry one.
    • The Raider's drum holds 35 rounds. The Hail-Fire holds 144 rounds. Have fun picking them up after.
  • Video game consoles continue to out do themselves every 6-7 years in the graphics department. Remember when gaming made the jump from 2D to 3D and how sick some of the games made in 3D looked? Today 3D graphics from Fifth Generation consoles look laughable at most as games like Video Game/God of War III or Uncharted push the PlayStation 3, arguably the most powerful console out of all three Seventh Generation consoles, to its limits.
  • Computer technology does this every few years. Remember when a terabyte hard drive was absolutely unthinkable?
    • Remember when 32 gigabyte SD Cards were?
    • When one gigabyte hard drives were on the horizon, PC Magazine did a spoof glossary of computer terms that included the following definition: "Terabyte: A unit of storage so massive it would take the average user two months to fill." At the time, it was a hilarious over-the-top commentary on how people's expectations of what would be "more than enough" capacity tended to get continuously modified as time passes. Now, it's simple truth if you download HD movies or the like.
      • When CD-ROMs were first introduced, most of them were in fact barely filled up (many actually containing the equivalent of just a dozen 5 1/4" floppy disks, just a drop compared to the media's 700 Megabyte capacity). One article from an issue of Amiga World magazine back in those days commented about the problems of what to fill them up with during a review of a CD-ROM drive for the Amiga 500. Compare that to today's Blu-Ray disks, with one rewritable variant announced to have a capacity of 200 Gigabytes.
    • On computing power, we've went from $1000 per GFLOP (a measurement of computing power) in 2000, to $1.80 in 2011. In fact, it's possible to build a supercomputer class machine for less than $3000 if you pick the right parts.
  • The classic joke "The Aristocrats". How much more vulgarity can we jam in before the inevitable punchline?
  • Modern Samurai Machii Isao. After cutting a mushroom's canopy, a pea pod (both lengthwise) and an Airsoft bullet as it was shot at him, what will people want to see him cut next?
  • Automotive Industry: How fast can a production car go? 217mph? 240? 250? 253? 256? How about 267? (set by the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport Edition. It has a 8 litre, W16, quad-turbocharged engine tuned up to 1200 horsepower. Stop and think about this for a second: it goes from zero to sixty in one hundred and twenty feet.)
    • Meanwhile, aerospace engineers look at it and giggle. Moving in only two dimensions, in a straight line, and with no cargo aboard. On the other hand, the aerospace industry has been challenging the impossible for speed (speed of sound, impossible? Naw, there's several planes that do twice that, while carrying the weight of five Veyrons in cargo alone), distance (landed on the Moon in the sixties, didn't go back... want to travel from one side of the continent to the other? Sure, just buy a ticket.), agility (the heart of every airshow — can the Veyron do its quarter mile while upside down?) and size (Can a million pounds of metal, flesh, and cargo fly across the Atlantic? Yes, just ask the Antonov A225 and Airbus A380).
    • That's nothing compared to experimental cars. The ThrustSSC managed to reach 763 mph in 1997. Now, there's another car being made, the Bloodhound SSC being developed to be able to reach a speed of 1,000 mph. If you're wondering, SSC actually does stand for Super Sonic Car.
  • The commission into the Victorian bushfires of February 2009 recommended the addition of a new bushfire danger level called "beyond extreme". It has since been named "Catastrophic - Code Red"
  • A Tex Mex restaraunt chain called Tijuana Flats has provided the answer to the question of how spicy hot sauces can get. Its hottest sauce is maybe 725000 Scoville units and approximately 5 times hotter that the former World's Hottest Hot Sauce, and their absolute hottest product, Chet's Gone Mad (a chili powder) is about 1.5 million Scoville units, more than enough to actually feel burning on your skin if you placed some on there. Naturally, anyone without a mouth of adamantine should really not try this.
    • Another, Blair's, offers bottles from their "Reserve Collection" that go one step beyond, (the disclaimer makes clear it shouldn't be used as a regular sauce) named "* AM" because the previous usage of such hot sauce was to drive off customers who didn't want to leave after the restaurant closure.
    • Nicko McBrain's restaurant "Rock N' Roll Ribs" has a hot sauce called the Run to the Hills Sauce measuring 1 million scoville units. When someone complained it wasn't hot enough they made the Die with your Boots on Sauce. The guy who complained about the Run to the Hills Sauce couldn't take one bite of the new one.
      • Apparently now the menu has a Maiden reference that further notices the escalation: Mild, Medium, Hot, Die with your Boots On, and Heaven Can't Wait.
  • The search for the world's hottest pepper. As of early February 2011, the hottest pepper — the Infinity Pepper — clocked in at 1,067,286 scoville. Two weeks later, February 25th 2011, it was displaced by the Naga Viper pepper, which registered 1,382,118 SHU. And in the two following years peppers surpassing the 2 million SHU mark were found in Trinidad and Tobago and South Carolina.
  • The cold war nuclear arms race. How powerful can the nukes get? The Tsar Bomba was around 5,000 times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima!
    • Or how MANY? For instance, let's take the Ohio class SSBN. Working small and going large, warheads. Each one ten times as powerful as the combined nuclear power dropped on Japan in WWII. Each Trident D-5 carried eight of those (although international negotiations got that reduced to five...that's 'arms reduction' in politician-speak). An Ohio class could carry up to twenty-four Tridents. We had over fifteen Ohio class boats on the register. Warheads, missiles, boats, bombs, how many cities could we fry? (and that's just ONE class of subs-there were preceding classes with the smaller Polaris missile, and many, MANY land based ICBM silos and plane-launched weapons)
      • It was said that during the heyday of the Cold War both sides had enough nukes to destroy each others every town and city at least 24 times over, and basically whole human civilization at least a few times over for good measure.
  • How much smaller can our iPods get? Not enough.
  • How much more realistic will our video games get? Eventually those AIs will develop minds of their own and take over the Earth's video game industry!
  • How many decorations will Christmas fanatics put up without getting out of hand?
  • How many cats can a crazy cat lady own before they suffocate the house?
  • How long can a tennis match be? 11 hours and 5 minutes over 3 days, answer courtesy of John Isner of America and Nicolas Mahut of France in the FIRST ROUND of the 2010 Wimbledon tournament. On the first day, it was a routine four-setter, suspended due to darkness. On the second day, they took the court at 2 p.m. and left at 9 when it was too dark at 59-59 in the fifth set long-game. The final score for the fifth set was 70-68. Records set: longest match, longest game, most games in a match/set, most aces fired (112 to 103)
    • Adding improbability to absurdity: Isner and Mahut drew each other in the first round the following year. This is only the 8th time a back-to-back first round draw has happened in the 125 year history of Wimbledon.
  • We're used to the ridiculous stuff they serve at county fairs. No one bats an eye at things like deep-fried Snickers, or chocolate-covered bacon. But how would you feel about deep-fried butter?
  • The Whopper. How many more patties can we fit between two buns?
    • Twelve.
    • Try the Mega Tamago from McDonald's Japan. 3 Patties, Lettuce, Cheese, 2 strips of Bacon, and a Fried Egg.
      • They also offered for a limited time the Big America series of burgers, all of which are variants of the Quarter Pounder, stuffed with More Dakka.
      • And they also have the Mega Mac, which is the Big Mac with 4 patties instead of the usual 2.
  • How ridiculously gigantic can a gun be made with 20th century technology?... Possibly one which equates in destructive power the early atomic bomb, or which could fire an early nuclear bomb as a shell and it would still be too small for it?
  • "Minimally-invasive" surgeries. These days, many surgeries can be performed in such a way as to cause less shock to the body, by making smaller incisions and using smaller instruments. There's still recovery time, but it's much less than previous methods. It is now possible to undergo open heart surgery without a blood transfusion.
  • The rôti sans pareil ("roast without equal")? This dish was a monstrosity dreamt up by the French (who else?) in the 19th Century. It consisted of a bustard stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a pheasant stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with a guinea fowl stuffed with a teal stuffed with a woodcock stuffed with a partridge stuffed with a plover stuffed with a lapwing stuffed with a quail stuffed with a thrush stuffed with a lark stuffed with an ortolan bunting stuffed with a garden warbler. And an olive.
    • Supposedly, a true gourmet would just eat the olive. Only the olive.
  • How long can Roger Gracie's winning streak at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships (aka the "Mundials") go? Before the 2011 Mundials, it's already at least fifteen (including an opponent being unable to compete in a divisional final).
    • The original question, "how many times in a row can Roger Gracie submit his opponents," ended up being answered with an unprecedented sixteen, including all nine of his 2009 opponents (by the same white belt-level chokes from the same position no less!) and all but one of his 2010 opponents... who only survived long enough to lose by points, 13 to 2. All of them were fellow BJJ black belts, by the way.
    • How long can Roger Gracie go without tapping out (being submitted) in competition? It's already been A DECADE and at least SEVENTY confirmed bouts. (He reportedly last tapped in competition back in 2000 when he was a blue belt, the rank above white belt, and his few losses were almost all on points.)
  • People figuring out how to play "Flight of the Bumblebee" faster and faster on various instruments, such as piano and accordion (and more accordion).
  • The 2010-2011 government formation in Belgium. Normally, when a parliamentary democracy votes, no party has a clear majority, and circumstances demand coalition government, it takes no more than 30 days for a coalition to get itself together. If there's a particularly close result or if a particularly unsavory party has won a lot of seats, it might take take three to five months. This government formation has taken about a year. And the news out of Brussels thus far has not been pleasant (former PM and current The European Union President Herman Van Rompuy has made some rather pessimistic noises about the prospects), making it possible that Belgium will reach 13 June 2011 without a permanent government—a whole year. A term of the Federal Parliament is four years. Yeah.
    • To give some perspective, this is (naturally) history's longest-ever government formation. Second place is Iraq in 2009-10, which took 249 days (about eight and a half months)...but Iraq is a young democracy, with really nasty sectarian and ethnic politics, and foreign powers meddling in pretty much everything. Oh, and the war. Don't forget the war. In the end, Belgium would take 541 days.
  • Throughout his career, Evel Kneivel broke 433 bones. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, that's the most broken bones survived by a person in one lifetime. Granted, motorcycling stunts are dangerous, but still...433 bones. That's like breaking every bone in your body twice, and then some!
  • World War II. By the time it was finished, a huge number of cities were utterly devastated, a major ethnic group was nearly eliminated (at least in Europe), atrocities of astonishing cruelty were commonplace, and entire classes of weapons (nukes, missiles) had gone from science fiction to killing hundreds of thousands. Within a few years of its conclusion, communism had gone from a fringe movement to a world force, and the great Europe-dominated empires were transforming into the "Third World". But for all the evil, there were just as many heroes.
    • But there can be no heroes without evil against which they can prevail. And even the heroes were responsible for countless deaths. There's a reason that World War II is a popular source for awesome video games, but there's also a reason most games shy away from the true horrors of the war.
  • Just how big can crazy people get their building ideas? Pretty big.
  • How sharp can we get a cutting edge? With an obsidian shard, one molecule. That is, sharp enough to cut between your cells without killing them. Even though they were originally discovered centuries ago (and used as ritual tools by cultures such as the Aztec), obsidian shards are still used as cutting tools by doctors around the world.
    • For those wondering why obsidian knives aren't all the rage, the answer is that obsidian weapons are Awesome but Impractical. Obsidian, despite its incredible sharpness, is also very brittle, and breaks easily.
  • Just how high CAN we build skyscrapers? Common throughout architecture and structures in general.
    • Tallest building? From about 2570 BCE until about 1300 CE, it was the Great Pyramid at Giza, standing at 146.5 meters (481 ft.). From c. 1300, Lincoln Cathedral became the tallest thing ever built by man at 524 feet high. No one was able to build anything taller until 1890, when it was finally beaten by Ulm Minster in Ulm, Germany, a cathedral whose spire reached 530 feet. The record for tallest building/structure has been broken 'several' times. The Burj Khalifa (2717 feet) was 62.60% taller (SIXTY-TWO PERCENT TALLER!) than the previous record holder, Taipei 101 (1671 feet). The approved-but-as-of-yet-not-started Sky City in Changsha, China, will be 2749 feet (also, insanely, will be made entirely of pre-fabricated units, so actual 'construction' will take about THREE MONTHS).
    • Longest bridge? In 1826, the Menai Suspension Bridge in Wales broke the record for longest span at 176 meters (577 feet). The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China laughs at this Welsh 'bridge,' with a total lenght of 164,800 m (540,700 ft- that's 102.4 miles!!!!). Granted, that's 'total' length, but there's still a 5.6 mile section of it over water.
      • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the longest continuous bridge passing over water, the waters of New Orleans's Lake Pontchartrain to be exact. The bridge is so long that for 8 of its 24 miles, you can't see land in any direction.
      • The longest 'span' today is 6532 feet, belonging to the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan. But the approved Strait of Messina Bridge (connecting SICILY with MAINLAND ITALY) will have a span of 10,800 feet.
    • In the opposite end, how much smaller can we make our apartments? 300 sqaure foot? 130 square foot? How about 90 square foot?
  • Warships. As technology improves, they get bigger, and bigger. Bigger cannons, more cannons, larger and stronger hulls. During the War of 1812, the young US Navy was able to field a class of Heavy Frigates that both carried twice the weight of broadside of their Royal Navy opponents, but could also sail faster and with more agility.
    • Steam engines and Ironclads appeared later on, allowing ships to be even bigger, heavier, and capable of taking and dealing out more punishment than ever before. Then came HMS Dreadnought, a revolutionary British battleship in 1906 that rendered every warship in the world obsolete, and which served as a Trope Namer for an entire type of warship (when you picture rows of big battleships with big guns in turrets on the main deck, you are picturing Dreadnoughts).
    • By the time World War I broke out, Dreadnoughts were already obsolete, having been replaced with bigger and faster and better armored Super Dreadnoughts. In a bit of a subversion, as these battleships got bigger and badder, they actually mounted fewer turrets, and even fewer guns in some cases, because the guns had gotten so friggen big that they still carried more destructive power with the fewer guns, while shedding un-needed weight and freeing up room for bigger engines and more space for fuel and ammo.
    • Then came a subversion, as improvements in airplanes and weapons technology (such as the eventual introduction of guided anti-ship missiles and much improved torpedos), battleships faded from the map and were replaced by smaller destroyers and cruisers capable of engaging targets dozens of miles or more away. In recent decades, even the bigger cruisers have begun to fade away in favor of destroyers armed with batteries of guided missiles and cruise missiles, though these destroyers themselves are still an example of this trope, the current ones often being as big as the cruisers of World War II.
Western AnimationSerial Escalation    

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