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Officer overtaking soldiers (tricky problem)

  1. Sep 4, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    I'm completely stumped by a simple sounding problem in my mechanics class. It's not for credit, but I'm frustrated and wanna see if I can figure it out with some hints.

    A column of soldiers has length L and is marching in a straight line at constant speed. An officer at the tail of the column rides forward to inspect the soldiers and when he reaches the head of the column, he reverses direction and returns to the tail. By the time the officer finishes his inspection, the column has advanced a distance d. What is the total distance traveled by the officer? Assume that the officer's speed is constant throughout the inspection.

    Answer should be in terms of L and d.

    2. The attempt at a solution

    I've thought of everything I can, but I haven't found a way of solving this problem which doesn't introduce new terms such as the velocities of the officer and the soldiers. Any help??
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2008 #2

    LowlyPion

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    Homework Helper

    Adding new variables isn't so bad if you can eliminate them again.
     
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