I’ll leave it to a math nerd to figure this out, there’s a good reason I’m a writer and, umm, not whatever a good math person would be. Every year Forbes magazine lists the top 15 richest fictional characters. The list this year includes C. Montgomery Burns, Bruce Wayne and Jed Clampett, but these guys are now where near the richest. The top rich dog is Carlisle Cullen, you know, from Twilight, with 34.1 billion. Admit it, you knew who he was, don’t be ashamed of your love for the teenage, angst-y, vampire novels. I guess living forever has it’s advantages when it comes to your investments.
But what about that dragon’s gold. Well, the math nerd whose part of compiling these rich fictional character lists took a crack at determining the worth of Smaug‘s loot. You might remember Smaug from such exciting adventures as The Hobbit, and umm, yeah just that one. Turns out Forbes‘, Michael Noer said it was easy to figure out Smaug’s worth, he explains,
The book describes Smaug as ‘vast,’ ‘centuries-old’ and of a ‘red-golden color.’ According to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons’ site The Hypertext d20 SRD a true-dragon of that age and color measures around 64 feet from snout to tail. However, a great deal of that length is likely tail. By way of reference, Komodo Dragons are 70% tail by length, so we can estimate Smaug’s body to be approximately 19.2 feet long.
Dragons are long and narrow, so we can safely assume that Smaug can curl comfortably up on a treasure mound with same diameter as his body length—19.2 feet.
How high is the mound? Well, at one point in The Hobbit, Bilbo climbs up and over the mound, and we know that Hobbits are approximately three feet tall. Assuming the mound is twice the height of Bilbo, we can say that the mound has a height of approximately 6 feet—like a six foot tall man climbing over a 12-foot mound of coins; substantial but not insurmountable.
To keep the math relatively simple and to avoid complications like integrating the partial volume of a sphere, we can approximate Smaug’s bed of gold and silver to be a cone, with a radius of 9.6 feet (1/2 the diameter) and a height of 7 feet (assuming the weight of the dragon will smush down the point of the cone by about a foot).
Now we can calculate the volume of Smaug’s treasure mound:
V= 1/3 π r2 h = 1/3 * π * 9.62 * 7 = 675.6 cubic feet
But, obviously, the mound isn’t solid gold and silver. We know it has ‘great two-handled cups’ in it—one of which Bilbo steals—and probably human remains, not to mention the air space between the coins. Let’s assume that the mound is 30% air and bones. That makes the volume of the hoard that is pure gold and silver coins 472.9 cubic feet.
Ouch. My brains hurts. To read through the rest of his calculations click on over to Forbes, you know, so you can double check his math. Noer was able to discern Smaug’s loot to be worth 8.6 billion. I wouldn’t mind stumbling through a dungeon door to find that treasure trove. Cha-ching!
Category: Nerd Culture