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an air traffic controller spots two planes at the same altitude flying towards one another. their flight paths form a right angle at point p. One plane is 150 miles from point p and is moving 450mph. the other plane is moving at 450mph but is 200 miles from point p. write the distance d between the planes as a function of time t.

  • Math -

    the planes' distances from p form a scaled-up 3-4-5 right triangle, so at the time specified, d, the hypotenuse, is 250

    at time t hours later,

    d^2 = (150-450t)^2 + (200-450t)^2

    That's kind of nasty, so a simpler formula would be,

    Let x be the distance of the first plane. Then the second plane is 4/3 x away from p.

    d^2 = x^2 + (4/3 x)^2 = 25/9 x^2
    since x = 150-250t,

    d^2 = 25/9 (150-450t)^2
    = 25/9 * 150^2 (1-3t)^2
    = 25*2500 (1-3t)^2

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