Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Nickeled and Dimed

There is a big plastic jar in my bedroom that used to be filled with a certain type of lollipop called Chupa-Chups (literallly "Sucky-Sucks"). All the candy is gone and has been replaced by US coinage - mostly quarters, no pennies. It's a pretty big jar - coffee cup placed next to it for scale - and it has never been counted, so I decided to do some estimates on how many Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers I could afford with the money inside.

First, I borrowed a highly bathroom scale from my mom, and I found it to weigh 13 pounds. Yeah, it's inaccurate, but we're just looking for some rough numbers. Now for some interesting calculations:

Using the weight of any particular coin, we can estimate how much the total would be if the entire jar were comprised of only a
single type of coin. This way we can establish upper and lower bounds for the value and then come up with a reasonable in-between.

There are
453.59237 grams in a pound.

A quarter = 5.670 grams. A jar of quarters would be worth
A dime = 2.268 grams. A jar of dimes would be worth
A nickel = 5.000 grams. A jar of nickels would be worth
A penny = 2.50 grams. A jar of pennies would be worth


A Sacagewea dollar = 8.1 grams. A jar of Sacageweas would be worth $727

I mentioned that one because there are quite a few Sacas in there. I was surprised that the value of dimes and quarters is
exactly the same, which means that a quarter weights exactly 2.5 times what a dime does. Interesting! Using these data, I can get the the highly accurate but highly imprecise conclusion that there is between $59 and $727 in the jar. So I can afford a new CD burner, a ticket to London, or moist likely an Xbox 360.

But wait, aren't there some bills in there? Yes, in fact there are. Just for giggles and grins, let's see how much would be in there if it were ALL bills. All US bills weigh 1 gram, therefore:

A jar of $1 bills would be worth
A jar of $5 bills would be worth
A jar of $10 bills would be worth
A jar of $100 bills would be worth

Yikes! Unfortunately I know undoubtedly that there is not a single Benjamin in there. At most there are two Lincolns and a handful of Washingtons. Ah well, it's all about the Washingtons anyhow.

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