Quandaries and Queries


Name: Krystal
Who is asking: Student
Level of the question: Secondary

Question: Hello,
I'm currently searching for a science project topic and i have the idea of deriving elliptic trigonometry analogous to circular trigonometry. My questions are:
Is this project "possible" to do?
If an ellipse and circle are so similar,then isn't true that anything that can be done to a circle can also be done to an ellipse?

Thank you!



Hi Krystal,

The project might be too difficult. I have never seen it done. Distances are impossible to compute by formula on an ellipsoid, and I imagine that there would be no formulas for angles. What makes spherical geometry work is the complete symmetry -- rotations about the center of a sphere will take any point to any other point, and any direction to any other direction. That says that any formula for a sphere is the same at every point of the sphere. Such a rule would not hold for an ellipsoid. On the other hand, if you are a computer person, you could probably develop computer algorithms that would solve spherical-like problems on an ellipsoid.