Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from David, a student:

I am doing a science project examining the tensile strength of seaweed fronds. I need to calculate the cross-sectional area from the major and minor diameters of the elliptical central axis of the seaweed frond. What formula would I use to get this.
The strength of the segments is expressed in terms of cross-sectional area of the frond at the test site.

Hi David,

Is the cross-section shape an ellipse? If so the area is π ab where the ellipse has 2a as major diameter and 2b is the minor diameter. Notice that if you have a circle, a = b, then the area is the familiar π a2.


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