Number Crunching

Had a million dollars worth of nickels and dimes,
She sat around and counted them all a million times,
Cab Calloway (and many others) – Minnie the Moocher

It occurred to me this morning, just how long would that take?

The first thing to establish is just how many coins would a million dollars in nickles and dimes add up to? A dime is ten cents, so a million dollars worth of dimes would add up to 10,000,000 coins (which incidentally would weigh 22.68 tonnes). A nickle is five cents, so a million dollars worth of them would be 20,000,000 coins (weighing 100 tonnes). We don’t have any information on exactly how Minnie’s cash is divided, but we can average it out and assume that she has 15,000,000 coins to count (weighing about 61.34 tonnes – better hope that gold and steel house she got from the King of Sweden has reinforced floors).

We can make a not unreasonable assumption that it takes about a second to count a single coin. Furthermore over the course of counting 15,000,000 coins Minnie would probably get pretty good at it, so let’s assume that it takes her only half a second per coin. This means that to count the whole lot would take Minnie 7,500,000 seconds. This is 2,083.3333 hours, or 86.8 days – assuming that Minnie takes a whole bunch of stimulants and never sleeps. It’s actually more reasonable to assume that she spends only 8 hours a day counting coins, so she has time to enjoy racing those horses and riding around in her diamond car.

Taking that into account, counting all the coins once would take 260.41 days, or 0.71 years.

That doesn’t seem too bad – but remember, she counts them a million times. To achieve this Minnie would need to spent eight hours a day counting coins for 713,001.49 years.

Poor Min indeed.

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