Subscribe RSS

If you live in a big city, this scenario is all too familiar: Traffic is bad. You're late for work. And, of course, the parking garage is now full. So you're forced to parallel park on the street. You finally find a spot between two hulking SUVs, but it looks pretty tight. Do you go for it or move on? Not to worry;
geometry can save you. Run a simple calculation and — voila! — you'll know just what to do.Ignore the car that's sneaking into your space as you do the calculation. You'll need a few pieces of information:

Your car's turning radius, r

The distance between the front and rear wheels, l

The distance from your front wheel to the corner of the front bumper, k

The width of the car you're trying to park behind, w

Simon Blackburn, Professor of Mathematics, at the University of London,

worked out a formula for the perfect parking, reminds our good school days,

Blackburn's formula does this by sketching the arc of your car's turning capability into a full circle, then using the center of the circle to create the right-angle triangles Pythagoras loved.That's a lot of work just to tell you if you have enough space for an easy park. And it doesn't tell you how to do the parking. That's something you have to learn by doing, which is how most people figure out whether they have enough space to park in the first place.

Mathematics gives you a way of understanding in detail what people have learned to do simply by practice and expertise," he says."In fact, when we practice something, be it on the athletic field or in an automobile, we are becoming very good mathematicians at doing a particular kind of operation, but usually we don't call it mathematics — and we certainly don't give people a pass on the math test because they can park their car."

How To Park Perfectly

Source: The Geometry of Perfect Parking by Simon R. Blackburn

Credit: Alyson Hurt, NPR

Category: | 24 Comments

Creeping closer inch by inch, 900 feet above the mighty Colorado River, the two sides of a $160 million bridge at the Hoover Dam slowly take shape. The bridge will carry a new section of US Route 93 past the bottleneck of the old road which can be seen twisting and winding around and across the dam itself. When complete, it will provide a new link between the states of Nevada and Arizona . In an incredible feat of engineering, the road will be supported on the two massive concrete arches which jut out of the rock face..

The arches are made up of 53 individual sections each 24 feet long which have been cast on-site and are being lifted into place using an improvised high-wire crane strung between temporary steel pylons.

The arches will eventually measure more than 1,000 feet across. At the moment, the structure looks like a traditional suspension bridge. But once the arches are complete, the suspending cables on each side will be removed. Extra vertical columns will then be installed on the arches to carry the road.

The bridge has become known as the Hoover Dam bypass, although it is officially called the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, after a former governor of Nevada and an American Football player from Arizona who joined the US Army and was killed in Afghanistan.

Work on the bridge started in 2005 and should finish by end of this year. An estimated 17,000 cars and trucks will cross it every day.

The dam was started in 1931 and used enough concrete to build a road from New York to San Francisco. The stretch of water it created, Lake Mead, is 110 miles long and took six years to fill. The original road was opened at the same time as the famous dam in 1936. More photos below.

An extra note: The top of the white band of rock in Lake Mead is the old waterline prior to the drought and development in the Las Vegas area. It is over 100 feet above the current water level.