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The Mathematical Mechanic

Some apps illustrating ideas in The Mathematical Mechanic by Mark Levi

Tags: mechanics

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Collection Contents:

Fermat Toricelli
Fermat Toricelli
The Fermat Toricelli Point of a triangle is the point which minimizes the sum of the distances to the vertices of the triangle. This app represents a mechanical device for computing the point. Balls dangling from strings which pass through the vertices of the triangle naturally settle at the point of lowest potential energy. Can you see why this solves the Fermat Toricelli Problem?

Tags: mechanics, Fermat

Fermat Toricelli Geometric Proof
Fermat Toricelli Geometric Proof
We use rotations to construct a path equal in length to the sum of the distances AE+BE+CE, whose end points are fixed.  Minimum for AE+BE+CE occurs when this path is a straight line. So long as no angles of the original triangle are greater than 120 degrees, this works.  What goes wrong when an angle does exceed 120 degrees?

Tags: mechanics, fermat

Ellipse Reflection Property
Ellipse Reflection Property
The reflection of a  ray of light emanating from one focus of an ellipse passes through the other focus. This app uses a zip line to show why.

Tags: mechanics

A Ladder Problem
A Ladder Problem
Instead of finding the largest ladder which fits round the corner, our spring-loaded device finds the smallest ladder which gets stuck in the corner.

Tags: Mechanics

Lifeguard Problem
Lifeguard Problem
The actuators exert constant forces reciprocal to the swimming and running speeds. Hence their potential energy is proportional to the time taken for the lifeguard to reach the victim

Tags: Mechanics

Drive in Movie Problem
Drive in Movie Problem
This machine computes the best location to view a drive in movie (maximizes the angle). The machine is composed of a pair of mechanical jaws attached at the ends to the top and bottom of the screen and at the middle to the viewing plane.  The jaws are pushed apart by a compressed spring, which will find equilibrium when the jaws are as far open as possible..

Tags: Mechanics

Least Square Linear Regression
Least Square Linear Regression
Move the points then press the play button.  The potential energy of the (zero natural length) springs is proportional to the sum of their length. Equilibrium will occur when the regression line is found

Tags: regression-mechanics

Largest Outscribed Equilateral Triangle
Largest Outscribed Equilateral Triangle
Drag A,B, C to change the original triangle.  Press Play to watch a spring driven equilateral triangle gradually settle at the maximum perimeter position. Press Show to see the perpendiculars to the sides of the equilateral triangle through A, B and C. Note that the mechanism settles at a position where these perpendiculars are concurrent. This is a problem from The Mathematical Gazette March 2014 pp 79-84.

Tags: Fermat, toricelli, equilateral, triangle


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