Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Smarter than a Fifth Grader

Jeanie, my assistant, showed me an unfamiliar coin she got in change. Her question: "are you smarter than a fifth grader? Can you tell me what this is?"

While I don't know if that's a fair comparison to what every fifth grader should know (maybe in another part of the world is it), this is what she had:

  • a silver coin about the size of a quarter
  • on the face is a picture of a distinguished (Asian?) gentleman wearing glasses
  • on the flip side is a picture of what looks like a dragon boat
  • the lettering is not something I recognized
  • no numbers that I could tell
This kind of search is pretty typical: you have something you want to identify and a few clues are provided. The questions are 1) where should I search? and 2) what keywords should I use?

My first thought was that the pictures seemed Asian, maybe southeast Asian. So I took a guess at some keywords: thai coin. I was pretty confident about "coin"; "thai" was speculative.

Where to search? I decided to see what kind of images thai coin would retrieve, so used Google Image search.  Immediately it was clear that thai coin was headed in the right direction: the same distinguished gentleman, although the exact coin was not matched.

So I switched to a Web search with the same terms. Wikipedia and a few others popped up and this helped to confirm some of the other symbols on the coin, especially the 1 baht symbol. Jeanie had received 1 baht instead of a quarter in change. 

Was that a fair trade? 

Try this moderately easy challenge: What coin is pictured here (and how much is it worth): 

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