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Unformatted text preview: Reexamining the Catenary Paul Cella, Oroville, CA 95965 The College Mathematics Journal , November 1999, Volume 30, Number 5, pp. 391–393 S ome years ago I was called upon to investigate an accident involving the failure of an overhead electrical transmission cable. One of the first tasks was to establish the geometry of the cable’s profile, which took the form of a catenary suspended from two supports at different elevations. A search of various textbooks and handbooks of mathematics, mechanics, and engineering practice produced what appeared to be a settled conclusion: when the supports of a catenary are at different elevations, the mathematical complexity precludes a theoretically correct solution, and a parabolic approximation is the recommended approach. Having since retired, I had the time to revisit this question, convinced that there must be a mathematically correct way to solve the generalized problem. As it turns out, a combination of algebra and a scientific calculator will do the job.combination of algebra and a scientific calculator will do the job....
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This note was uploaded on 03/05/2010 for the course MAT 1740 taught by Professor Staff during the Winter '08 term at Oakland CC.
 Winter '08
 STAFF
 Math, Calculus

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