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Soap Films and Grid Walks

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathLand)
Description: A simple, physical demonstration of a mathematical truth can produce a lasting impression - one that inspires new questions and speculations. For Christopher C. Chang, a student at Henry M. Gunn Senior High School in Palo Alto, Calif., and one of 40 finalists in this year's Westinghouse Science Talent Search, that demonstration involved soap films and a classic problem invented nearly two centuries ago by Jakob Steiner, a professor at the University of Berlin. When Chang started to work on the Steiner problem, instead of finding Steiner points on a plane in which roads can go in any direction, he looked for them on a grid, meaning that the roads can go only in certain directions. This put the problem into the realm of discrete geometry.

Levels: High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Problems/Puzzles, Articles
Math Topics: Graph Theory, Convex/Discrete Geometry

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