Two analogous(?) problems
- Judah L Schwartz
Here are two physical situations whose mathematical descriptions are related. Compare and contrast the two situations. I. a beam of light is emitted from a light source, is reflected from a mirror and strikes a receiver. - What is true about the actual path of the light? - What physical quantities have a minimum value along the actual path? [You can adjust the positions of the light source, receiver and mirror.] II. Each end of a weightless string of fixed length is attached to a peg. A ring is free to move along the string. - What is true about the equilibrium position of the ring? - What physical quantities have a minimum value in the equilibrium position of the string? [You can adjust the positions of the pegs and the length of the string.] How are these two problems similar? How are they different?