3,600,000 (3.6 million) Nickels Add Up Nicely

This story was on page A11 of the Saturday, 5 February 2005, Arizona Republic.

   "Police searching for marijuana in the Miami area 
    discovered an entirely different stash buried four 
    feet underground Friday: millions of nickels that 
    vanished last year en route to the Federal Reserve 
    in New Orleans."

The police found 3.6 million nickels. How many U.S. dollars is this? A nickel written as a decimal number is $0.05.

The 3.6 million nickels ended up weighing 450,000 pounds. How many ounces is this? There are 16 ounces in a pound.

The stash of nickels were stored between 900 bags. How many nickels per bag is this?


During a MAT102 lecture, we extended this BAB to calculate the weight per nickel. Our answer came out to be a completely bogus. The piece of data in question is that the nickels weighed 450,000 pounds.

I used the web to find an archived copy of the news story and it said the nickels weighed almost 23 tons. [source::MSN.com]

   1) convert tons to pounds (lbs)
      assume 2,000 lbs. per 1 ton

      23 tons approximates 23 x 2000 lbs (i.e. 46,000 lbs)

   2) calculate lbs per nickel

         46000 lbs       0.0127 lb
      --------------- =  ---------
      3600000 nickels     1 nickel

   3) convert 0.0127 lb into ounces
      assume 16 ounces per pound

      0.0127 x 16  =  .2032 ounce

   4) calculate how many nickels it would take to weigh 1 pound

      ? nickels     1 nickel
      ---------  =  ---------
        1 lb        0.0127 lb

      1 / 0.0127 = approximately 78.74 nickels


      ? nickels      1 nickel
      ---------  =   ---------
        16 oz       .2032 ounce

      16 / .2032 = approximately 78.74 nickels

      [answer] It takes about 79 nickels to weigh one pound.

I decided to provide a hyperlink to this news story for future reference. Due to their archive policies, I was not able to hyperlink to the original story at AzCentral.com. I don't hyperlink to MSN.com; therefore, I found another copy of the story at FindArticles.com.

FindArticles.com:: Heist of a truck hauling 3.6 million nickels

Doh! FindArticles.com says the weight of the nickels was 22.5 tons. Recall, we used 23 tons to figure out the weight of one nickel. MSN.com said the nickels weighed almost 23 tons. 22.5 tons rounded up to the nearest whole ton is 23 tons; however, 0.5 ton represents 1,000 pounds.

  1. The update provided by FindAricles.com indicates that the 3.6 million nickels weighed 22.5 tons. Recalculate the approximate weight of one nickel using 22.5 tons instead of 23 tons.

About the Original Error

In the original version of this BAB, I wrote that the 3.6 million nickels weighed 450,000 pounds. This was mis-information (i.e. erroneous data), but I don't know how the error was introduced; in other words, either the Arizona Republic article was in error or else I made an error in reading or copying the data.

This BAB was created and presented during the Spring 2005 semester. It was presented during the Fall 2005 semester because of the GDT::BAB:: New Nickel Coming in 2006 that was created and presented during th Fall 2005 semester.

Creator: Gerald D. Thurman [gthurman@gmail.com]
Created: 05 February 2005

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