03 February 2008

Calculating the height of a tree

Now, can the peepul tree in my village fall on our house? YES, It can even take half of our neighbour`s house with it when it falls. Here is how I used the trigonometry to figure out our sacred trees height:

I drew a base line on a card board one fine night. Measured placed the card board 50 ft away from the tree. Placed the torch as in the figure and increased the angle torch makes to the base line until the beam hit the top of the tree. Marked a line along the torch. Here we go, got the angle.

Height = 50ft * tan(angle). Height turned out to be 98 ft, enough to rout three houses including ours! There is another donkey way of doing this measurement. If the angle is 45 degrees there is no math needed. Distance of the torch from the tree equals the height of the tree. Then you need more people and crappy scrolling to do on the field. Many were curious to know how tall the tree was.

There was nothing new but idea was original because I did not know what internet was then in 1997. I saw the Internet a full 2 years later in 1999. It seems Red Indians watched bellow their ass and moved forword until they saw the tip of the tree. Their distance from the tree was approximately the height of the tree.

Bhaskara (12 century ACE ) uses algebra and trigonometry in his Leelavathi Ganitha to solve several similar problems. Beauty of his book was problems were as interesting as his solutions. As I say this, next time I am in India I will hunt for the book. By the way Peepul tree in our village is strong and its trunk measures 5-6mts. To this day neither have I seen an up rooted peepul tree nor would I like to believe that my ansistors are stupid enough to plant "danger" next to our house!

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