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You can fit a lot of Pringles into the Crossrail tunnel

Posted at 12:30 pm, June 10, 2015 in Transport
Screen shot 2015-06-09 at 15.34.51

A man called Andy Carter has figured out how many crisps you can fit into the length of the Crossrail tunnel – because why not? Here’s how he did it.

Assumptions and variables 

Let’s assume the Pringles remain in their packaging. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, the shape of a Pringle chip is complex and finding its volume is beyond my C in A-level maths. The
Pringles tube, however, is a cylinder and that has an easy formula for volume. Secondly, we know roughly how many Pringles fit into a canister: 90 per 190g container on average. Let’s also assume that the Crossrail tunnel
is completely empty. So no track bed, signals, cables or anything else that could otherwise get in the way of me filling it up with the moreish snack. Finally, let’s concentrate only on the tunnel itself, rather than stations and
interconnecting passageways. The tunnelling adds up to 42km.



We’re going to lay the Pringles cans flat and not stand them up vertically as you would find them in a shop. I’m pretty sure we’ll get more in that way. See diagram above. So I need to work out how many cans (n) fit into a cross-section of tunnel. There’s no easy one-size-fits-all formula, but a quick go on a packing problem calculator at www.engineeringtoolbox.com shows me that you can fit a whopping 5,346 Pringles cans into a Crossrail tunnel cross-section; there’s further proof on my blog. Admittedly 5,346 seems a lot, doesn’t it? Try and visualise it, though. Also remember that the tunnel diameter is 6.2m. That’s probably wider than a cross-section of my flat!

It’s then a simple calculation (see above) of dividing the total length of Crossrail tunnelling (t = 42km) by the length of a single Pringles can (L = 266mm) and multiplying that by the number of cans per cross-section (n = 5,346). That gives us 844 million cans of Pringles! So if there are 90 chips per can, how many Pringles can you fit into Crossrail? The answer is 75,969,473,684! Yes, almost 76 billion crisps.

Snack attack stats

1. To fit those 76 billion Pringles into the Crossrail tunnel would cost £2,093,381,052.63. That equates to £49.8 million worth of Pringles per km – the same as San Marino’s GDP.

2. If you stacked the Pringles cans on top of each other, you’d build a tower 224,532km high. That’s just over half way to the moon.

3. All those Pringles would weigh 160,380 tonnes, equivalent to 12,679 new Routemaster buses or 891 tube trains (Central Line ones).

4. If it took you four seconds to eat a single Pringle, it would take Crossrail’s entire 10,000-strong team 352 days to eat their way through the crisp-filled tunnels. If you did it solo, it would take more than 9,000 years.

Take a tour of the Crossrail here.

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