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HOW DID IT HAPPEN???


Best Answer bonanova, 24 September 2007 - 03:12 AM

I think this answer

Yep. I presume you mean 1 mile north of south pole?

doesn't work: when you get to the South pole, how do you run West?

But this answer:

There's an infinite number of circles around the South Pole where he could have started.

does: for example, any point on the circle (1 + 1/2pi) miles from the South Pole.

After going South 1 mile, you're (1/2pi) miles from the Pole,
which allows you to run West 1 mile [1 lap of a 1-mile circumference circle]
and be able to go a mile North to the starting point.

As Martini noted, there is an infinite number of starting distances:
1 + 1/2Npi miles North of the South pole where N is any positive integer.
N is then the number of circular laps in your westerly mile.

e.g. N=5280 - you'd run 5280 laps around a 1-foot circumference circle.

Here's a counter question - why can't N be negative?
i.e. start closer than a mile - you could still do N laps Go to the full post


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#61 unreality

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 12:09 AM

That works. And there are an infinite number of points exactly one mile north of that circle from which one could start.

Then if you take another circle which is one half mile in circumference, you would walk west one mile and make two trips around the circumference and then make your return trip north to your starting point. Again, there are infinite starting point for this solution.

And you could go on with a one third mile circle, one quarter mile circle, one fifth mile circle, and keep going for another infinite number of solutions.

This is all in addition to the obvious solution where you start at the North Pole.


nice! I hadn't considered the half-mile double-loop idea (and of course all the way down the reciprical integers) :)
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#62 CiaranMcP

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Posted 11 June 2009 - 01:29 PM

This could not happen from the south pole as you cannot run 1 mile south when you are technically at the southernmost point of the globe. You could of course run in any direction from the North pole and it would be considered travelling south, then run 1 mile west and from here return to the north pole almost in a perfect equilateral triangle path of 1 mile per side. Simple.
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#63 leetmonke

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 04:38 PM

it could actually happen anywhere


running north isn't necessarily u or straight instead of looking like a square w/out one side, the mans path would look like a equilateral triangle.
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#64 whitesoxsean

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 06:07 AM

nice! I hadn't considered the half-mile double-loop idea (and of course all the way down the reciprical integers) :)


there is a problem with the half-mile part. if you start 1/2 mile north of the s. pole, and head south 1 mile, you wouldn't be going south after the pole, so u cant go one mile south, only 1/2 mile.
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#65 Rheticus

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 06:24 PM

there is a problem with the half-mile part. if you start 1/2 mile north of the s. pole, and head south 1 mile, you wouldn't be going south after the pole, so u cant go one mile south, only 1/2 mile.


No no no, you're not starting half mile from the south pole.

Think of it this way:

There is a place on earth (close to the south pole) where the circumference of the earth is exactly 1 mile. That please is north of the south pole by x. Now, think of yourself starting 1 mile north of that place. You're now 1 mile + x north of the south pole. If you go south by a mile, you're not at the south pole yet (you're still x away). Then you go west for 1 mile, and are back to where you were before going west (since the circumference is exactly 1 mile) then you go north for 1 mile, and you are back to where you started. That's the "simple" south pole solution.

Then, to get more complex, think of a place on earth that has a circumference of exactly 1/2 a mile. That place would still be north of the south pole, but south of the circle we used in the previous example. Let's say that circle is y away from the south pole. If you start 1 mile north of that circle, you are 1 mile + y from the pole. Again, go south for a mile, and you're still y away from the pole. If you now travel west, you'll come back to your starting position after going half a mile. Since you have to walk a mile, you keep going, and return to that position AGAIN when you are done. Then you go north for 1 mile and you are back to fulfil the obligations of this problem.

So, any place that's a mile north of a whole fraction of a mile circumference, is fair game (1 mile, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, etc). Each of these places are still north of the south pole (as every place on earth is) so you never have a problem with "running out of south".
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#66 marsupialsoup

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Posted 19 March 2010 - 08:42 AM

There is something minor missing to the more precise "latitude solution" to the puzzle. I don't think it's been clarified yet. The spoiler contains the algebra to obtain an exact, mathematical answer, although the previous posts contains all the necessary ideas. Worthwhile to take a look if you're into math. So the same solution as some of the posters, just an attempt at an exact description of it.

Spoiler for A little geometry

Edited by marsupialsoup, 19 March 2010 - 08:50 AM.

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#67 fuser

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 07:17 PM

we can also consider a pyramid...he starts from the tip of the pyramid whose length of each side is greater than 1 mile....
although its only for the first part of the question...

Edited by fuser, 05 April 2010 - 07:21 PM.

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#68 charonme

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Posted 04 May 2011 - 12:14 PM

Posted Image
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#69 jovinjw

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 05:07 AM

There can be any place on earth that has a circle of radius 1 mile and 1 mile west would be walking on the circumference so there would be infinitely many answers.
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#70 Mr. Chan

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 01:07 PM

Please forgive me if I am trying to act smart but it seems there's another possible answer, which doesn't involve the concepts of geography and calculations and gives this puzzle a kind of a new perspective.

Let us assume that this man is standing on a rotating disc. Let's take his start position as A and end position as B. Now it can easily occur that after the man went from A to B, the disc rotated in such a manner that original A and B coincide (the whole idea is that the platform he is running on, is mobile. Ain't it??)

Just a thought. :P Don't kill me on this guys!
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