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December 16th, 2010, 07:12 PM  #1 
Newbie Joined: Dec 2010 Posts: 1 Thanks: 0  Solving For Mass, Given mass as constant and 1 unknown
So today my teacher decided to challenge us with a "word problem". He placed an unknown amount of marbles, all of constant mass, in 8 boxes. The mass of each of these boxes are: Box 1: 36.03 g Box 2: 30.41 g Box 3 = 24.93 g Box 4 = 24.87 g Box 5 = 20.63 g Box 6 = 15.98 g Box 7 = 10.43 g Box 8 = 6.28 g These are the values of just the MASS of the marbles. I have already subtracted the mass of the box from each one already. Now, how would you solve for the mass? Here's what I started with: Let's say the number of marbles is represented by 'n' (the subscripts being the # of marbles relative to a box), and 'm' being the mass of the marble (which is constant). For example: Mass of Marbles in Box 1 = m(n1) Mass of Marbles in Box 2 = m(n2) etc. Using elimination method for each of the boxes, we isolate until we get a single variable solved. The problem is, the variable n is a set of whole numbers where n greater than or equal to 0 [of course, having 0 for n is useless I think, so I'd say it was actually greater than or equal to 1]. I have no idea how to approach this problem properly. It seems like everytime I try to isolate, there is always an unknown variable that cannot be solved. Any ideas? 
December 16th, 2010, 07:37 PM  #2 
Senior Member Joined: Jul 2010 From: St. Augustine, FL., U.S.A.'s oldest city Posts: 12,211 Thanks: 521 Math Focus: Calculus/ODEs  Re: Solving For Mass, Given mass as constant and 1 unknown
It seems to me that since 3041 (box 2) is a prime number, then the mass of each marble must be 0.01 g., but that seems really low for a marble. On second thought, that reasoning is faulty, since it assumes the mass must be an integral multiple of 0.01 g. Never mind. 

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