## Friday, September 9, 2011

### Measuring Money: Theirs

In the last two posts, I've talked about the size of money, its weight, color, etc. Our focus was on US currency. If you have traveled around, you know that we're one of the few countries with single-color, single-size currency. Elementary math students in other countries have more to learn about their coins and banknotes than we do.

NOTE: Money is just one reason why math curricula may not transfer easily to other countries...

Here is some paper money from the European Union. They have a unifying artistic theme - fronts show well-known windows or gateways; backs display famous bridges. There are 7 denominations:
Euro banknotes are embossed with patterns that can be felt by blind people, plus they have lots of anti-counterfeiting features. Each bill is a different color and they increase in size with value:
• 120mm x 62mm (7440 sq mm) for €5 Gray
• 127mm x 67mm (8509 sq mm) for €10 Red
• 133mm x 72mm (9576 sq mm) for €20 Blue
• 140mm x 77mm (10780 sq mm) for €50 Orange
• 147mm x 82mm (12054 sq mm) for €100 Green
• 153mm x 82mm (12546 sq mm) for €200 Yellow
• 160mm x 82mm (13120 sq mm) for €500 Purple
• .16 mm thick
In my imaginary TV producer's rulebook for stereotypical detective shows I will point out that larger ransoms can be demanded by the villains in Europe than in the US or the UK. Why?
Bad guys in the European Union can use €500 notes instead of \$100 bills. If each bill has a thickness of 0.16 mm, the briefcase holds approximately €6,350,000 (US equivalent of \$9 million). Hoodlums in the UK will use £50 notes, in order to squeeze £900,000 into their briefcases (US \$1.5 million).
Let's look at the UK banknotes. There are four choices in value: 5, 10, 20 and 50 pounds sterling:
UK currency resembles the euro and differs from US bills in that banknotes vary in size and color:
• 135mm x 70mm (9450 sq mm) for £5 Blue
• 142mm x 75mm (10,650 sq mm) for £10 Orange
• 149mm x 80mm (11,920 sq mm) for £20 Purple
• 156mm x 85mm (13,260 sq mm) for £50 Red
• .113 mm thick
Queen Elizabeth is on the front of banknotes from the Bank of England, but the designs differ by the bank and country (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, etc.). If you want more details, check the Bank of England website.

I decided to graph the three currencies we've investigated this week, using my elementary math skills. What do you think? [click on charts to enlarge]

The next time you see the bad guys carrying a briefcase full of money, you'll be able to calculate the maximum value that will fit, IF you know which country's currency they prefer ...