# Divide it amongst yourselves IIJuly 18, 2011 8:11 AM   Subscribe

"the average number of molecules in a rock band"

Somebody? Anybody? Please show your working. And we need the average rock band, not your favourite band (YFBS).

Previous question.
posted by Leon to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Sorry to be pedantic but are we including essential equipment or just the personnel?
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 8:18 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

A first estimate: the average rock band has 4 adult male members and is typically American. That's about 346kg these days. Since water and other small-ish molecules make up the bulk of the human body's mass, we'll use water's molar mass of 18.01528 g/mol. That gives 19,205 moles or 1.15 x 10^28 molecules. Written out that's 11,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules.
posted by jedicus at 8:18 AM on July 18, 2011

I think three significant figures is too many for a result based on scientific wild-ass guesses. Assuming the rest of the reasoning is OK, just 1028 molecules will do.
posted by flabdablet at 8:21 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: TheAlarminglySwollenFinger: Excellent question. Lets go with just the band for now. But if anyone wants to work out the number of molecules in a 1968 Gibson Flying V, that would be awesome.
posted by Leon at 8:22 AM on July 18, 2011

A first estimate: the average rock band has 4 adult male members and is typically American. That's about 346kg these days.

Wouldn't rock band types tend to skew a little more svelte than the average american male though?
posted by ian1977 at 8:29 AM on July 18, 2011

Wouldn't rock band types tend to skew a little more svelte than the average american male though?

Not all rock stars are hipsters in need of a sammich.
posted by valkyryn at 8:30 AM on July 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

No, but rock stars certainly aren't 200 lbs on average as jedicus' answer implies.
posted by griphus at 8:34 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Of course that's drawing a distinction between "rock band member" and "rock star." There's a lot more of the former than the latter, however that also skews considerably younger and therefore lighter as well.
posted by griphus at 8:42 AM on July 18, 2011

We also have to think about what genre is being played. Garage? Skinny people. Metal? There's going to be at least one fat guy - probably the drummer. Prog? There's going to be twelve of them. Indie? There will be three real musicians, and like four others who play stupid shit like the glockenspiel and only if the show is local and only if they can get the night off.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 9:55 AM on July 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

Warning: overthinking it.

I would use a higher molecular mass than water. While the body is mostly water, essentially every other molecule in the human body is heavier than water, which means using it as an average is a poor approximation. If you look at the composition of one cell here, you'll see that the percent water by molecule is quite large, but that the percent by mass is much smaller.

Based on those numbers, I get an average molecular mass of about 27 g/mol, which then should be dropped a bit to account for intercellular fluid, but probably not below 20-22 g/mol.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 10:35 AM on July 18, 2011

[Citation needed] Wikipedia reference:
The four-piece band is the most common configuration in rock and pop music.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 1:43 PM on July 18, 2011

I like what Dr.Enormous is thinking and it would provide you with a very decent estimate.

I would say for the average rock band that estimating for 4 males at an average of 180 lbs would give you a good average. Some of the guys are shorter and weigh less and some of the guys are a bit taller or heavier in general but it seems good enough for a broad spectrum.

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