# PHYSICAL MEASUREMENTS

:
Real World Mathematical Modeling (RWMM)
of the Length of a 415 Mb File Saved on a CD-RW Compact Disc

Perry Lee Gordon, B. S. Physics
The University of Texas at Dallas
Department of Physics, EC 36
Richardson, Texas, U.S.A. 75080-3021
[2011:12:21:20:16 UTC]
SUMMARY
A research paper mathematically uncoiling the Pit Track of a standard CD-RW, using the
Mathematical principles of Analytical Geometry, Surface Area and Integral Calculus to
calculate the length of a 415 Mega-Bit file saved on it.
The calculation of the length of an uncoiled “little” pecan roll is performed to verify the
accuracy of the methods mentioned above.
PHYSICAL MEASUREMENTS: The Length of a 415 Mb File Saved on a CD-RW
Compact Disc
CONSTANS
GORDON
S
G O D
N
OF
*REX EST MERCES*
Misericordia, Honor et Iustitia
S G O D NOF
*REX EST MERCES*
Misericordia, Honor et Iustitia
S G O D NOF
*REX EST MERCES*
Misericordia, Honor et Iustitia
2
PHYSICAL MEASUREMENTS: The Length of a 415 Mb File Saved on a CD-RW
Compact Disc
The other day I saved a 415 Mb file onto a CD-RW. After I saved it I looked at the disc
and could see were the Boolean data had been saved, and I wondered, How long is a 415
Mb file? Is there a way I can uncoil the bits and measure them?...Yes. It’s called Math!
First things first, let’s measure the disc in metric units.
The large radius of the information saved on the disc is 4.8 cm (The total disc area is 5.9
cm but we didn’t fill the disc so we’ll just use the radius of the actual data on the disc. So,
for maximum precision I am only measuring within the writeable/readable recording
region of the disc and only the part of this space that is filled. Note: The total disc radii
lengths are, r = 2 cm and R = 6 cm.).). The small internal radius is 2.2 cm.
Next we find the total area of the writable/readable region of the disc. This is very easy,
particularly for those of you who have taken Geometry; we simply set up the equation so
that the writable/readable regions we want the area of are bounded between the two radii
we have measured. So we calculate the area of the large circle minus the area of the small
circle:
2 2
2 1
r r A A
Circle Circle
  ÷ = ÷
This gives us our region of data. Plugging in the numbers yields:
( ) ( )
( ) ( ) | |
2
2
2 2
2 2
2 2
2 1
177 . 57
1769863 . 57
2 . 2 8 . 4
2 . 2 8 . 4
cm A
cm A
cm cm A
cm cm A
A r r A A
disk
disk
disk
disk
Disk Circle Circle
=
=
÷ =
÷ =
= ÷ = ÷

 
 
So that’s the surface area. Now, let’s find the length of the 415 Mb of data saved in that
surface area. The CD-RWs disc (and in fact all CD’s) are written using Pits (grooves
where the actual file data is stored) and Lands (raised plateaus that separate the Pits
Tracks. The Pit Track the spiral of the Pits around the disc. They are wound together in
very close proximately or Pitch from each other. For a CD-RW the pitch, the distance
between Pit Tracks, is about 1.6 micrometers ( ) m
6
10 6 . 1
÷
×
[1]
Therefore if we divide the
surface area we found by the average distance between the Pit Tracks that should give us
the length of the 415 Mb Pit Track i.e.: the actual length of the file I saved on the disc.
First convert centimeters into micrometers:
m
m
m
cm
m
cm 

4
6 2
10
1
10
1
10
1 =
|
|
.
|

\
|
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
÷
This means that the surface area of the data on the disc is:
3
PHYSICAL MEASUREMENTS: The Length of a 415 Mb File Saved on a CD-RW
Compact Disc
( )
2 2 4
770 , 571 10 177 . 57 m m A
disk
  = × =
Now all we have to do to find the 415 MB data’s length is to divide the Area of the data
on the disc by the width of the data spiral on the disc. (If the area of a circle equals the
area of a rectangle then;
W L A
disk
× =
And that is exactly what I’m doing here! I’m setting them equal because I’m taking an
area (the area of the 415 Mb data on the disc surface) and “cutting” it into a long
continuous strip (the Pit Track). It doesn’t matter if the disc is circular and the strip I’m
“cutting” is rectangular, if they are equal, they are equal. So then, if I know the Area
( )
2
770 , 571 m A
disk
 = and the strip’s width ( ) m W
6
10 6 . 1
÷
× = , I can solve for the length
according to those parameters.)
km L
m L
m
m
m
m
L
W
A
L
Disk
357
25 . 356 , 357
10 6 . 1
57177 . 0
10 6 . 1
770 , 571
6
2
6
2
=
=
×
=
×
=
=
÷ ÷

That means that the length of the Pit Track that stores the 415 MB file is 571 kilometers
long!!!!!!! That’s 222 miles!!!!! On one disc!!! That’s greater than the minimum orbital
distance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space
Shuttles!!!!
[2]
We could have also integrated to find the length of the Pit Track. Just set up the integral
of the equation of the circumference of a circle:
r C  2 =
To Get:
} }
= = rdr dr r I   2 2
Evaluated at the upper and lower bounds of 4.8 cm (or 48,000 micrometers) and 2.2 cm
(or 22,000 micrometers) [2.2 cm is the radius of the distance from the CD-RW’s central
hole to the recordable region of the disc and 4.8 cm is the radius of the 415 Mb file on the
disc] and then dividing that value by the Pitch width (1.6 micrometers). Doing this we
get:
} }
= = rdr dr r I   2 2
4
PHYSICAL MEASUREMENTS: The Length of a 415 Mb File Saved on a CD-RW
Compact Disc
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( )
2
2
2 2
2
6
2
6
2 2
000 , 48
000 , 22
2
1
2
2
000 , 48
000 , 22
2
1
2
2
000 , 48
000 , 22
2
000 , 48
000 , 22
2
000 , 48
000 , 22
2
000 , 48
000 , 22
2
000 , 48
0000 , 22
000 , 48
0000 , 22
571769863 . 0
182 . 0
0484 . 0 2304 . 0
10 000 , 22 10 000 , 48
000 , 22 000 , 48
2
1
2
2
1
2 2
2 2 2
m I
m I
m m I
m m I
m m r r I
r r r I
r r I
r rdr I
rdr rdr dr r I
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
m
=
=
÷ =
× ÷ × =
÷ = ÷ =
÷ = =
= =
= =
= = =
÷ ÷
}
} } }

   
 
 
 
  

Dividing this area by the Pit Track width gives:
km L
m L
m
m
m
L
W
A
L
Disk
357
1644 . 356 , 357
1644 . 356 , 357
10 6 . 1
571769863 . 0
6
2
=
=
=
×
=
=
÷
357 kilo-meters!!! Or 222 miles!!! That’s (again) greater than the minimum orbital
distance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space
Shuttles!!
[2]
Obviously this is a much more accurate value of, but either method works
and gives us what we wanted, the length of the 415 Mb files.
But now, I know what your thinking, Are you sure??? Let’s check it using something we
can all see and touch and easily measure, a pecan roll. The pecan roll measures 1.2
inches in radius or 3.048 cm with a 0.5 cm hole in the center and 0.5 cm dough thickness.
How long is the unrolled pecan roll? Do what we did before:
5
PHYSICAL MEASUREMENTS: The Length of a 415 Mb File Saved on a CD-RW
Compact Disc
( ) ( )
( ) ( ) | |
| |
2
2 2
2 2
2 2
2 1
040304 . 9
25 . 0 290304 . 9
5 . 0 3.048
cm A
cm cm A
cm cm A
A r r A A
disk
disk
disk
Disk Circle Circle

 
 
=
÷ =
÷ =
= ÷ = ÷
2
2
2840095263 . 0
40095263 . 28
m A
cm A
disk
disk
=
=
Find the Length:
m L
m L
m
m
m
m
L
W
A
L
Disk
57 . 0
5680190527 . 0
005 . 0
2840095263 . 0
10 5 . 0
10 2840095263 . 0
2
2
2 2
=
=
=
×
×
=
=
÷
÷
And see, the pecan roll has a
2
4 . 28 cm surface area (about 8% of one square foot) and is
about cm 9 . 56 long or 22 inches long!
[3]
[1] ^ Compact disc. (2013, May 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved
22:42, May 13, 2013, from
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Compact_disc&oldid=552968652
[2] ^ Space Shuttle. (2013, June 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved
22:18, June 6, 2013, from
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Space_Shuttle&oldid=558338263 ; Anthony R.