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Problem of the Week

Problem B and Solution

That’s A Lot of Reading


The first National Geographic magazine was published in September 1888.

  1. Assume that the magazine was published every month of each year since the first publication. By the end of this year, how many National Geographic magazines would you have if you had one copy of each magazine? That is, how many magazines would be in the complete collection from September 1888 to December 2020?

  2. Assuming each magazine has 145 pages, how many pages would be in one complete collection?

  3. Assume that each issue is approximately 5 mm thick. If you stacked the magazines from one complete collection one on top of the other, would the pile be taller than your classroom? Explain your reasoning.

  4. Assume that each National Geographic magazine is \(25.5\) cm tall. If you laid the magazines from one complete collection end-to-end, would they go around a 400 m track?


  1. The complete collection would be as follows:
    1888: 4 issues
    1889 to 2020: 12 issues each year \(\times\) 132 years = 1584 issues
    Thus, there would have been a total of 4 + 1584 = 1588 issues between September 1888 and December 2020.

  2. There would be 1588 issues \(\times\) 145 pages per issue \(= 230\,260\) pages in one complete set.

  3. The total height would be 1588 issues \(\times\) 5 mm thick \(= 7940\) mm or \(7.94\) m.
    Unless your classroom has a cathedral ceiling, the magazine stack would be higher than your classroom ceiling.

  4. The distance covered by laying the magazines end-to-end would be 1588 issues \(\times\) 25.5 cm \(= 40\,494\) cm or \(404.94\) m, which is about 5 m longer than a 400 m track.