"Chinese, four abreast, marched on forever"

Ripley's cartoon of marching Chinese
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumRipley's cartoon of marching Chinese - Credit: Ripley Entertainment Inc.
This refers to one of the most famous items in Robert Ripley’s Believe It Or Not book and newspaper column/cartoon panel: “If all the Chinese in the world were to march four abreast past a given point they would never finish passing, though they marched forever and ever.” The idea was that the already-numerous Chinese reproduce faster than the time it would take them to march past a given point. Ripley produced a memorable drawing of an endless parade of Chinese in coolie hats, marching four abreast across the globe, for his newspaper feature as early as 1910.

Though the concept caught the public’s imagination (and served as partial inspiration for Cyril Kornbluth’s 1951 science-fiction story “The Marching Morons”), Ripley’s math was faulty, starting with the most recent census figures he used: from 1402, with an annual 19 percent population gain! More recent calculations have suggested it would take the Chinese only 23 to 42 years to march completely past a single point.

Bradbury’s reference merely illustrates one of the things you might easily find in a library.