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Maximising an area - goat in field

  1. Aug 16, 2011 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    this isnt a homeowrk question as such - its a question that my Grandpa asked me.

    You have a circular field, and a goat tied up to a post which is somewhere on the cirumference of the field. How long does is the rope if the goat is able to eat exactly half of the grass in the field

    2. Relevant equations

    area of field = pi * r^2, and say for arguments sake that the radius of the field is 10 meters. let r be radius of field and R be radius goats rope

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I thought that you would maximise by differentiating at first, or solving a quadratic but unsuprisingly its not that simple!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2011 #2


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    Homework Helper

    What about a nice drawing of the field with grass and goat and string? It would show how to solve this problem.

    Last edited: Aug 16, 2011
  4. Aug 16, 2011 #3


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    Science Advisor

    What you are really asking about is the area of the intersection of two circles. Let's take the field to be a circle of radius R. The region the goat can eat the portion of a circle of radius r with center on the circumference of the first circle that is contained within the circle. I would be inclined to do this as coordinate geometry: Set up a coordinate system so that the first circle has center at the origin, take the center of the second circle to be at (0, R) and write the equations of both circles. You might need to integrate to find the area of the intersection in terms of r and R. Then set that equal to [itex]\pi R^2/2[/itex] and solve for r.
  5. Aug 16, 2011 #4


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    Here is a picture... The shaded area is R2π/4, and it is the sum of two circle sectors minus the area of the triangle OAB. No need of calculus, but the equation to be solved is rather ugly.


    Attached Files:

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