# Pittcon 2017 – The number of particles in the jar was…

Written by: Severine Michel

Pittcon 2017, as it has in previous years, provided us with an excellent opportunity to meet with current and prospective customers to discuss their application challenges and introduce them to some of our technologies.

The Malvern team spent the week engaged with customers, both in the short courses we offered as well as at our booth, discussing applications and characterization challenges.

For many visitors, Pittcon provided their first opportunity to see certain Malvern instruments in person. There was significant interest at the booth for our Mastersizer 3000, OMNISEC, NanoSight, and Zetasizer, and overall Pittcon 2017 was a very successful event.

Once again, a popular draw at the Malvern booth was our “guess the number of ‘particles’ in the jar” contest. This year, a particle was defined as baseballs to celebrate the World Series champion Chicago Cubs. Like similar years, visitors enjoyed the challenge of guessing how many particles were in the jar – some mathematically trying to calculate the answer, while others prefer the option of a random guess.

In total there were 372 entries made trying to guess the correct number of particles in the jar, ranging from a low of 278 and a high of 5,000,0000! The median for the collection of guesses was 1,400 and only 26 entries were within 10% of the correct answer. So the contest provided quite the challenge.

Drum roll please… The **total number of particles in the jar was 1,037** and Brad Weedon of Valspar was the closest to the correct answer with his guess of 1,033. Congratulations Brad, you’re $500 Amazon gift card is on its way!

We asked Brad if he would be willing to share how he came up with his entry and here is what Brad had to say…

“

I looked at how many of the smaller “particles” occupied what I estimated to be about 20% of the surface area of the bottom of the container. I then multiplied that by five. Using that number, I multiplied by the number of layers of the smaller “particles” there were.

This gave me an estimate of how many smaller “particles” alone it would take to fill the container. I then estimated how many of the smaller “particles” were displaced by a single larger “particle”. I then guessed how many of the larger “particles” there were based on how many I could see, assuming a uniform distribution throughout the container. I multiplied the number of larger “particles” by the number of smaller “particles” each one displaced and subtracted that from my estimate of how many smaller “particles” alone it would take to fill the container.

Since it was all an estimate (and some guessing), I didn’t add back for each of the larger “particles”. Maybe if I had I would have gotten closer or even the exact number!”

Good job Brad! You’ll have to settle for only being off by four (laughs).

Thank you to everyone who participated in our contest and for stopping by the Malvern booth. We look forward to seeing you next year in Orlando!

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