Importance of Surface Area
Date: 05/26/2001 at 00:53:09 From: Francine Subject: The benefits of surface area Hi Dr. Math! I was just curious, why is surface area so important? What kinds of things depend on surface area? I've heard of towels and how surface area is important, but what else? ...in construction? I don't know. Please tell me and give me a few examples. Thanks!
Date: 05/26/2001 at 22:17:26 From: Doctor Peterson Subject: Re: The benefits of surface area Hi, Francine. Let's see ... In construction, surface area affects planning (how much to buy) and costs (how much to charge) in connection with such things as wallboard, shingles, and paint. In manufacturing you will have the same issues - say, the cost of making boxes or printing, or sheet metal parts. In designing, surface area enters into calculations of wind resistance and drag in cars or airplanes, pressure and strength of materials. The surface area exposed to air affects how fast something cools or heats or dries out. Elephants, for example, need big ears to increase their surface area for cooling purposes, so it's not only human designers that have to do these calculations. Many objects have complex shapes to increase their surface area: the inside of your lungs, intestines, and brain, air cleaners, radiators - and towels, as you mentioned. Others avoid flat shapes to minimize surface area and avoid drying out: pine needles and cactus for example. Many things you buy for home use are priced by surface area - or, if not, you should figure out their cost per square foot to decide which is the best buy: fabric, plastic wrap, and so on. It looks like surface area is pretty important just about everywhere! - Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
Date: 05/26/2001 at 23:45:34 From: Francine Subject: Re: The benefits of surface area Hi! Thanks a lot. It really helped me, and you're really smart! Well, I just wanted to take this time to thank you for taking your time to answer my question. Take care, and I'll be sure to ask you more questions in the future! Francine
Search the Dr. Math Library:
Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.