1
$\begingroup$

In this video (starting at 1:30), a "trick" is presented to mark a board of unpleasant length (call $l$) into equal thirds, by angling the tape measure to a more convenient integer length (call $t$, defined as $l$ rounded up) and dividing that integer into thirds.

My first instinct was this trick must be an approximation, valid only for small angles ($t \approx l$). I attempted to derive a formula for the error in the approximation, which I assumed might depend on $l$ and $t$ (and through them the angle, with $\cos\theta= \frac{l}{t}$), and possibly depend on the number of segments the board was being portioned into.

To my surprise, I seem to have shown that the portion width based on the angled trick ($y$ in the following diagram) is indeed exactly equal to a third of the board length, regardless of the angle of the tape measure.

My question: Is the "trick" described indeed an exact geometric method, or have I made a mistake in my calculations? Is there a more elegant way to demonstrate the answer than my approach?

Here is my attempt at solving the problem:

Sketch of the geometry

(Please pardon my unorthodox notation for $sin$ and $cos$.)

$\endgroup$
2

0

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .