The Math Forum

Ask Dr. Math - Questions and Answers from our Archives
Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

Radical Equation

Date: 04/12/97 at 06:01:03
From: bob
Subject: Radical Equation

I'm helping my cousin on a practice exam and I am stumped on this 

   3x + (5x^(1/2)) - 28 = 0.

It is driving me crazy.  Thanks for your help.


Date: 04/12/97 at 16:07:33
From: Doctor Mason
Subject: Re: Radical Equation

Hi, Bob.

Your equation involves a 1/2 power. This makes it a radical equation 
rather than a polynomial equation.

To solve it, I would first isolate the term with the 1/2 exponent 

   5x^(1/2) = 28 - 3x.      

Since  (a^(1/2))^2 = a^1 by property of exponents, our next step will 
be to square both sides, taking care to square the entire side as a 
unit and NOT term by term.

   (5x^(1/2))^2 = (28 - 3x)^2     
      5^2 * x^1 = (28-3x)(28-3x)   
            25x = 784 - 168x + 9x^2.     

Since the equation is quadratic we will set it equal to zero.
              0 = 9x^2 - 193x + 784.        

Then we factor.
              0 = (9x - 49)(x - 16),       

which will give us roots of 49/9 and 16.

Since we raised the power of this equation when solving it, we must be 
sure to check both solutions as one or both could be extraneous roots, 
i.e. solutions to the quadratic equation, but not to the original 

Indeed, when we check 16 we find that 3(16) + 5(16)^1/2 - 28 = 40  and 
not 0.  But, when checking 49/9, we happily see that the equation is 
   3(49/9) + 5(49/9)^1/2 - 28 = 49/3  +  35/3  - 28  = 0.

Hope this helps! 

-Doctor Mason,  The Math Forum
 Check out our web site!   
Associated Topics:
High School Basic Algebra

Search the Dr. Math Library:

Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):
Click only once for faster results:

[ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.]

all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase
parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search

Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.