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A Helical Stairway Project

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We answer a geometric question that was raised by the carpenter in charge of erecting helical stairs in a 10-story hospital. The explanation involves the equations of lines, planes, and helices in three-dimensional space. A brief version of the question is this: If A and B are points on a cylinder and the line segment AB is projected radially onto the cylinder, then how non-helical is this curve?

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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