What's the Exchange Rate Between Harry Potter Coins and Muggle Money?

Jason English
Jason English

The world J.K. Rowling constructed in the Harry Potter series raises a lot of questions. For one, what exactly was the value of all that wizard money they were throwing around? If you’ve ever pondered this question but lacked the nerdy ambition to figure it out for yourself, you finally have answer thanks to Reddit user aubieismyhome, who calculated the exchange rate.

By detailing everything that’s been given value in the Harry Potter books, aubieismyhome was able to analyze the worth of wizard money. The in-depth breakdown starts by listing the exchange rates between the three coins that make up wizard currency, which Hagrid lays out for Harry in the first book. According to Hagrid, 1 galleon equals 17 sickles, and 1 sickle equals 29 knuts. From there, the fan used a little extra math to figure out how to convert this value into Muggle currency.

The Reddit user compared the prices of things bought in the wizarding world (for example, hot chocolate, butterbeer, and a potion-making book) to equivalent items from the Muggle world. Based on this information, aubieismyhome was able to approximate that a galleon was roughly equivalent to $25, a sickle to $1.50, and a knut to 5 cents.

To put that in context, the price of a butterbeer comes out to about $3, while Harry’s wand would have cost him $175 (which is not a bad deal, considering it's a wizard's most prized possession). And it looks like even wizards are subject to overpriced textbooks: a copy of Advanced Potion Making would cost more than a wand, according to the Reddit user.

Aubieismyhome went on to look at what this says about the socioeconomic status of the characters in the Harry Potter universe. It’s no secret that Harry was wealthy, but seeing his riches converting into USD helps to put things into perspective. As the user explains, "At the World Cup, he spent $750 to buy he, Ron, and Hermione Omnioculars as Christmas presents ... Not only that, but he gave Fred and George $25,000 of Triwizard Tournament winnings to start their joke shop because he didn't need it.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rowling wasn’t exaggerating when she emphasized the Weasleys’ poverty. When the family empties out their vault at Gringotts in the Chamber of Secrets, they come away with only 1 galleon and a pile of sickles, roughly $50 to $75. One of the largest sums mentioned in the books is the reward offered by the Ministry for Harry’s capture in the Deathly Hallows: They were prepared to pay his captor $2.5 million, which was worth 10 times as much as the bounty placed on Sirius Black’s head.

Check the original Reddit post for the full list of every value mentioned in the Harry Potter series.

[h/t Mashable]

Why Are Sloths So Slow?

Sloths have little problem holding still for nature photographers.
Sloths have little problem holding still for nature photographers.
Geoview/iStock via Getty Images

When it comes to physical activity, few animals have as maligned a reputation as the sloth. The six sloth species, which call Brazil and Panama home, move with no urgency, having seemingly adapted to an existence that allows for a life lived in slow motion. But what makes sloths so sedate? And what horrible, poop-related price must they pay in order to maintain life in the slow lane?

According to HowStuffWorks, the sloth’s limited movements are primarily the result of their diet. Residing mainly in the canopy vines of Central and South American forests, sloths dine out on leaves, fruits, and buds. With virtually no fat or protein, sloths conserve energy by taking a leisurely approach to life. On average, a sloth will climb or travel roughly 125 feet per day. On land, it takes them roughly one minute to move just one foot.

A sloth’s digestive system matches their locomotion. After munching leaves using their lips—they have no incisors—it can take up to a month for their meals to be fully digested. And a sloth's metabolic rate is 40 to 45 percent slower than most mammals' to help compensate for their low caloric intake. With so little fuel to burn, a sloth makes the most of it.

Deliberate movement shouldn’t be confused for weakness, however. Sloths can hang from branches for hours, showing off some impressive stamina. And because they spend most of their time high up in trees, they have no need for rapid movement to evade predators.

There is, however, one major downside to the sloth's leisurely lifestyle. Owing to their meager diet, they typically only have to poop once per week. Like going in a public bathroom, this can be a stressful event, as it means going to the ground and risking detection by predators—which puts their lives on the line. Worse, that slow bowel motility means they’re trying to push out nearly one-third of their body weight in feces at a time. It's something to consider the next time you feel envious of their chill lifestyle.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Are Any of the Scientific Instruments Left on the Moon By the Apollo Astronauts Still Functional?

Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first footprint on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong left the first footprint on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Heritage Space/Heritage Images/Getty Images

C Stuart Hardwick:

The retroreflectors left as part of the Apollo Lunar Ranging Experiment are still fully functional, though their reflective efficiency has diminished over the years.

This deterioration is actually now delivering valuable data. The deterioration has multiple causes including micrometeorite impacts and dust deposition on the reflector surface, and chemical degradation of the mirror surface on the underside—among other things.

As technology has advanced, ground station sensitivity has been repeatedly upgraded faster than the reflectors have deteriorated. As a result, measurements have gotten better, not worse, and measurements of the degradation itself have, among other things, lent support to the idea that static electric charge gives the moon an ephemeral periodic near-surface pseudo-atmosphere of electrically levitating dust.

No other Apollo experiments on the moon remain functional. All the missions except the first included experiment packages powered by radiothermoelectric generators (RTGs), which operated until they were ordered to shut down on September 30, 1977. This was done to save money, but also because by then the RTGs could no longer power the transmitters or any instruments, and the control room used to maintain contact was needed for other purposes.

Because of fears that some problem might force Apollo 11 to abort back to orbit soon after landing, Apollo 11 deployed a simplified experiment package including a solar-powered seismometer which failed after 21 days.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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