Additional Math Pages & Resources

Monday, July 12, 2010

Too much of a good thing

Value is directly related to Scarcity - in other words, it's possible to have too much of a good thing. Math can help you decide when enough becomes too much.

I saw a great news item today - "Hospital Chef unearths hoard of 52,500 Roman coins!"

Here's an image from the British Museum. 

Roger Bland, a coins expert at the British Museum, said: "The hoard weighs 160 kilos, and it wasn't  easy to recover the coins from the ground. The only way would have been the way the archaeologists had to get them out, by smashing the pot that held them and scooping them out."

Here's a link to a great summary of the find.


Mr. Bland, who encourages metal detector fans to report all their finds, said the hoard had already absorbed more than 1,000 hours of work from his staff. He admitted his stunned reaction when he saw the coins was "Oh my gosh! How are we going to deal with this?" He now says, "the research will keep me going until my retirement." I loved this story. It's a bit like finding the largest gold nugget that we discussed a couple weeks ago.

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The coin find reminded me of what a curator at the Page Museum (La Brea Tar Pits) told me a few years ago. They found a new pit full of bones when they were digging out a parking garage nearby.

"Oh No!, what are we going to do with all of this? We already have a million bones, about 250 species EACH of vertebrates and invertebrates PLUS hundreds of plants - maybe three million items. And now all this! We'll need more warehouses! More volunteers. More money. Oh No!"

Go here if you want to see what they are dealing with.


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The Chinese museums probably had the same reaction when the Terra Cotta warriers were discovered. Ten warriors are great. Tens of thousands are a problem!


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This is the definitely the same response we got from a Greek tour guide when my wife asked why they hadn't completely excavated an interesting cave: "Oh we will eventually. It's probably worked its way up to number 11,000 on our list - all waiting for funding!"