What an amazing time we had at Pittcon in New Orleans this year!  The folks who visited our booth were treated to not one, but two contests to enter for the chance to win Amazon gift cards.

First, we challenged people to guess the number of ‘particles’ in the jar – we are the particle characterization experts after all! OK, so they weren’t really particles… as we were in NOLA just after Mardi Gras, we filled a great big jar with shiny beads and asked people to guess how many were in there for a chance to win a \$500 Amazon gift card.  It wasn’t quite so straightforward though.  We all know that when you’re characterizing a sample, you sometimes get anomalies that throw off the results from what you were expecting.  So, we threw some mini plastic alligators into the jar to make things interesting.

This resulted in a lot of head scratching.  While some were happy to take a random guess, others tried to take a mathematical approach.  The fact that the beads were not densely packed as they were on strings, coupled with the presence of the gators, made this approach rather tricky.  A number of enterprising people even got out a ruler from their bag of exhibition swag and started to measure!

We had 238 guesses in total ranging from 250, right up to 7.8 billion!  The median guess was 12,344, and only 4% of guesses were within 10% of the correct answer.  Clearly this was not an easy task.

So how many ‘particles’ were there?! Drumroll please…..

## 23,940

The winner was Praveen Srirama, a Research Scientist at Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring & Research Center, with the closest guess of 24,356.  Congratulations Praveen!   We asked Praveen how he got so close to the answer: “Initially, I was under the impression that there would be around 100,000 beads in the jar, and thought that I should at least do a rough calculation (using basic math). However, I noticed that the jar also contained alligators, and since the alligators were much larger than the beads, I decided to go with a quarter of my initial estimate. I guessed a random number since I assumed everyone would be putting down rounded numbers.”

For our second contest, we challenged visitors to the booth to take a selfie with their favorite instrument and share it on Twitter.  While some opted for a straightforward, smiley shot, we had a couple of very inventive pics.  Branden Bacon brought along a little buddy to brighten up his #MalvernSelfie, while another entrant posed using the Parsum probe as a sort of telescope.

We loved all of the entries so much we had to resort to picking a random winner as we just couldn’t choose.  Congratulations to the winner Alissa Cornacchia, who did a great modelling job with the Morphologi G3!   You can check out all of the entries via this link.  If you use Twitter, you can follow us by clicking here, for more fun and the latest on our educational program.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the contests at Pittcon. Should you have any particle characterization needs – including counting them – please get in touch. We’ll help you take all of the guesswork out of your particle characterization needs.