Sunday, May 31, 2015

51 Stars

Last night, a terrible thought struck me. "If Puerto Rico becomes a state, how will we adjust the stars in the US flag so that there is symmetry in their placement?" I know, I know--it's the same kind of thing *everybody* thinks about. I grabbed a legal pad that I keep on my desk, and here is what I came up with. Keep in mind that 51 is a difficult number to deal with. Currently, the stars are arranged in alternating rows of 5 and 6 stars (or columns of 4 and 5 stars) to add up to 50. Here is what I came up with: If you line them up *diagonally* rather than horizontally or vertically, starting in the bottom left corner and ending in the upper right corner, you can do it with seven lines (or "rows"), each with the following numbers of stars: 4, 6, 9, 13, 9, 6, 4. The row of 13 of course would reach from the upper left corner to the bottom right corner. It's not perfect, since the row lengths do not increase consistently, but the increase of the *increase* is at least consistent; we increase by 2, then 3, then 4, then decrease by 4, then 3, then 2.
A Google image search revealed that others have already thought through this problem with better results.


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