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Re: Parametric Solving Question From 14 Year Old

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg23531] Re: Parametric Solving Question From 14 Year Old
  • From: Ronald Bruck <bruck at>
  • Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 22:30:02 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In article <8fqr85$h40 at>, Alan <alana at> wrote:

:    I am 14 and am wondering how to solve parametric equations directly
:without graphing in Mathematica? I am figuring out when a projectile in
:motion hits the ground only due to the even force of gravity acting upon
:it. The parametric equation is:
:I want to find the value x(t) and t when y(t)=0.

[Because the email above was sent with some 8bit characters
 it is possible that the missing Degree mentioned below did not
 get transmitted. -- moderator]

Be careful, you may not get what you expect--Mathematica computes 
Cos[60] to be negative, because that's sixty RADIANS.  Use 1.0472 (60 
degrees in radians), or write it as 60 Degree (which will do the 

To solve the second equation for t, do something like

x[t_] = 15 t Cos[60 Degree];
y[t_] = 15 t Sin[60 Degree] - 9.80665/2 t^2

(you can also refer to the 9.8066 as GravityAcceleration, if you load the
"Miscellaneous`StandardAtmosphere`" package).  Then

sol = Solve[y[t] == 0,t]


{{t -> 0.}, {t -> 2.6493}}

The first solution is obvious, and the second is what you want.
To get the range, type


to get 19.8698.  (Not a very powerful projectile.)

But at age 14, instead of using Mathematica, you should be solving the 
quadratic equation by hand.  You're much better off reading an algebra 
book and playing with things by hand than using a CAS at this age.  

When I was your age, I was solving cubic equations, because I read 
"Algebra for the Practical Man", which showed how.  I didn't understand 
the REASON the solution worked, but understanding comes later.  Nor will 
I comment on how useful symbolic solutions to cubic equations are to the 
"Practical" man...

--Ron Bruck

Due to University fiscal constraints, .sigs may not be exceed one

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