The lazy electrician.

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ceptimus
Posts: 1462
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 11:04 pm
Location: UK

The lazy electrician.

Post by ceptimus »

By a remarkable coincidence, the positions of Tommy's shed, garage and greenhouse lie at three of the corners of a 100-metre square; his house lies at the remaining corner.

Tommy has decided to run an electricity supply from his house to each of the outbuildings, none of which currently has a supply. Local planning regulations state that the cables must be buried underneath the ground, and Tommy hates digging trenches.

Tommy sits down and works out the minimum length for the trenches he will have to dig. Assuming that Tommy is extremely smart, what is his answer?
Last edited by ceptimus on Wed Jul 21, 2004 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
ratbag
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Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2004 12:11 pm

Post by ratbag »

I reckon
283 metres.....2 diagonals meeting in the middle gives access to all four corners of the square
Rat
Brown
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Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2004 3:15 pm

Post by Brown »

If my math is right, I get ... 273.205 meters.
Sundog
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 4:27 pm

Post by Sundog »

I get Rat's answer, 2 times the square root of 20,000. How did you cut it by 10 meters?
Brown
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Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2004 3:15 pm

Post by Brown »

It's a little hard to describe, but here goes: Instead of one central node, I have two central nodes, each node offset from the center of the square. Each "leg" stretching from the corner to a node leaves the corners at an angle of 60 degrees. (By contrast, with a single central node, each "leg" from the corner to the central node leaves at an angle of 45 degrees.) Each "leg" has a length of 57.735 meters, and the two nodes are 42.265 meters apart. 4*57.735 + 42.265 = 273.205 meters.

Looked at another way: If you have one central node, there are four lines leaving from it, with an angle of 90 degrees between any two neighboring lines. If you have the two nodes as I have described--or at least tried to describe--then each node has three lines leaving from it, with an angle of 120 degrees between any two lines.
Brown
Posts: 297
Joined: Wed Jun 09, 2004 3:15 pm

Post by Brown »

The pattern I tried to describe looks something like this:

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*...............*
..*...........*..
....*.......*....
......*****......
....*.......*....
..*...........*..
*...............*
[/color]
Sundog
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 4:27 pm

Post by Sundog »

Yes, I get it. Rather brilliant. I'm just trying to see how you arrived at that exact angle as the optimal solution.
ceptimus
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Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 11:04 pm
Location: UK

Post by ceptimus »

Sundog wrote:Yes, I get it. Rather brilliant. I'm just trying to see how you arrived at that exact angle as the optimal solution.
You can use trial and error, or differentiate the formula for the length, and solve when the derivative equals zero.

A 'practical' way to see the solution is to make a long square wireframe prism and dip it in soapy water. The soap film, because of surface tension, will adopt the surface with the least area that bridges the four wires.

Brown got the correct answer. Well done Brown!
Sundog
Posts: 2578
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 4:27 pm

Post by Sundog »

ceptimus wrote:
Sundog wrote:Yes, I get it. Rather brilliant. I'm just trying to see how you arrived at that exact angle as the optimal solution.
You can use trial and error, or differentiate the formula for the length, and solve when the derivative equals zero.

A 'practical' way to see the solution is to make a long square wireframe prism and dip it in soapy water. The soap film, because of surface tension, will adopt the surface with the least area that bridges the four wires.

Brown got the correct answer. Well done Brown!
Ah well, I need to brush up on my calculus anyway. My son will be asking for help on his calc homework before long.
WildCat
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 2:53 am
Location: The Old Northwest

Post by WildCat »

[nitpick]
You're all wrong. He has to dig 300 meters (it could be a little less if you connect to the inside corners of the buildings of course) of trench, since all your solutions would require a buried junction box. AFAIK, there are no junction boxes for residential use that can be buried.
[/nitpick]
Sundog
Posts: 2578
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 4:27 pm

Post by Sundog »

WildCat wrote:[nitpick]
You're all wrong. He has to dig 300 meters (it could be a little less if you connect to the inside corners of the buildings of course) of trench, since all your solutions would require a buried junction box. AFAIK, there are no junction boxes for residential use that can be buried.
[/nitpick]
[nitpick-nitpick]Do the rules of the puzzle preclude an above-the-ground junction box?[/npnp]
ceptimus
Posts: 1462
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2004 11:04 pm
Location: UK

Post by ceptimus »

WildCat wrote:[nitpick]
You're all wrong. He has to dig 300 meters (it could be a little less if you connect to the inside corners of the buildings of course) of trench, since all your solutions would require a buried junction box. AFAIK, there are no junction boxes for residential use that can be buried.
[/nitpick]
If you're going to nitpick, get it right! :)

Having dug the trench, Tommy can easily run three separate wires through it: one to each of the outbuildings. I said that Tommy hates digging trenches, not that he is short of wire. ;)
WildCat
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 2:53 am
Location: The Old Northwest

Post by WildCat »

ceptimus wrote:If you're going to nitpick, get it right! :)

Having dug the trench, Tommy can easily run three separate wires through it: one to each of the outbuildings. I said that Tommy hates digging trenches, not that he is short of wire. ;)
D'oh!