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Math Help - rubber ball dropped

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Mar 2008

    rubber ball dropped

    A rubber ball dropped from a height of 10 meters, rebounded 3/4 of it's height from which it fell. If it continued to bounce and rebound so that each new height was 3/4 the previous height, how far did the ball travel before hitting the ground 20 times?
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  2. #2
    Eater of Worlds
    galactus's Avatar
    Jul 2006
    Chaneysville, PA
    The nth partial sum of a geometric series is


    Where a_{1}=\frac{15}{2}, \;\ r=\frac{3}{4}

    The infinite series can be gotten from


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  3. #3
    MHF Contributor
    Sep 2008
    West Malaysia
    y can't we take the sum of distance travelled by the ball after hitting the ground 20 times ? In what case , can we consider that it is an infinite series ?
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  4. #4
    MHF Contributor

    Apr 2005
    No, this is not an infinite series. Nor is it a geometric series!

    First the ball drops 10 m. Then it rebounds (3/4)(10) m. Then it drops (3/4)(10)m, then rebounds (3/4)^2 10 m., then drops (3/4)^2 10 m. Each distance, after the first drop is doubled- once up then down. The total distance is 10+ 2(10)(3/4)+ 2(10)(3/4)^2+ \cdot\cdot\cdot+ 2(10)(3/4)^n. Notice that it has bounced once after the first drop, twice at the second drop, ... and when the exponent is n, has bounced n+1 times. The total distance traveled at the 20th bounce is D= 10+ 20(3/4)+ 20(3/4)^2+ \cdot\cdot\cdot+ 20(3/4)^19

    That is NOT a geometric series because the first (n=0) term is 10, not 20. Fortunately, we can fix that by adding 10 to both sides: D+10= 20+ 20(3/4)+ 20(3/4)^2+ \cdot\cdot\cdot+ 20(3/4)^19

    Now use the formula \sum_{n=0}^N= \frac{a(1- r^{N+1})}{1- r}.

    D-10= \frac{20(1- (3/4)^{20})}{1- 3/4}= 80(1- (3/4)^{20})= 79.75 m, approximately so D= 69.75 m, approximately.

    (The total distance after an "infinite" number of bounces would be 70 m.)
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