Hands of Clock Fundamentals

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Hands of Clock Fundamentals

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How many degrees (if any) are there in the angle between the hour and minute hands of a clock

when the time is a quarter past three?

Clearly there is an angle between the hour and minute hand other than zero. This comes from

the fact that the hour hand, having been exactly on the '3' at 3 o'clock, doesn't simply stay

there whilst the minute hand is catching up. Rather it is one quarter of the way on it's journey

to 4 o'clock. So let us consider the angles clockwise from 12 o'clock so.

12 o'clock = 0

1 o'clock = 30

2 o'clock = 60

3 o'clock = 90

6 o'clock = 180

The simplest way to think of this is that each hour is made up of 30 and that the hour hand

will have moved one quarter of an hour past three o'clock. x 30 = 7.5

Q. A regular clock has an hour and minute hand. At 12 midnight the hands are exactly aligned.

When is the next time they will exactly align or overlap? How many times a day will they overlap?

page.) First thing is the answer is not 1:05 which might be your first thought. Why? See

answer of previous question. By the time the minute hand gets to five past one the hour hand

will have moved slightly past 1 o'clock. The hour hand after all does not wait at 1 o'clock for

an hour but rather it moves to 2 o'clock over the course of the next hour. The first overlap

will be a little after five past one.

The first approach is probably the most obvious; it's the most mechanically intuitive. We'll

use a variable 't' the time in hours. We know the speeds of the hands by definition the Minute

Hand will move one full rotation or 360 per hour. The Hour Hand makes a full rotation in 12

hours and will therefore move at 30 per hour. At our first overlap just after five past one the

Minute Hand will have done one full rotation plus the bit we are interested in. The Hour

Hand will have done just a part rotation of 't' times it's speed.

Hour Hand

30t

t

11t

t

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

Minute Hand

360t - 360

12(t - 1)

12

12/11

1.090909.. hours

65.454545454.. minutes

1h 5min 27.272727..seconds

The next method i would like to suggest is that we realise that the concept of 360 degrees is

an artificial construction. And not necessary to solve the problem. We can consider the

speeds only in term of revolutions per hour with the Minute and Hour Hands moving at 1 and

1/12 revolutions per hour respectively. The first line of our equation then becomes:

Hour Hand = Minute Hand

t/12 = t - 1

Probably the most elegant solution is to realise that the overlap will happen 11 times in a 12

hour period and so the answer is just 1/11th of 12 hours. It's difficult to difine this. But it

makes sense. Just as we reasoned our first overlap will be at just after 1:05 we can reason that

our last will be just before 10:55. Our overlaps will be at just after 1:05, a bit more after 2:10,

even more after 3:15 and so on (actual times give at the end) but since our last is a bit before

10:55 there will be no overlap whilst the Hour Hand is indicating 11. A Very Scientific

Approach below also gives us a way to realise this.

Let's first analyze the problem of overlapping clock's hour and minute hands. First set our

imaginary clock to 12:00 midnight which is the starting time for the problems time period.

As you see at start time when the period for calculation starts we have an overlapping

condition for clock's hour hand and minute hand.

Now assume that the clock's hour and minute hands overlap for the next time. The first

overlapping after 12:00 o'clock will happen between 1 o'clock and 2 o'clock. But we do not

know the exact time right now at this stage of the problem solution.

Let's examine the above situtation now. First of all, clock's hour hand only moved from

position 12 to a position between 1 and 2. What is interesting for the solution of this inteview

question is that at the same time period, the minute hand of the clock completed a full cycle

starting from 12 to 12 and additionally traveled the same distance as hour hand at the

overlapping time.

Here is a drawing displaying the case visually to help you understand the hint for the solution

of "how many times a day a clock's hands overlap?".

We have one base mathematical equation for this problem that will lead us to solution. The

minute hand is 12 times faster than the hour hand. If you think of the time passing from 12:00

o'clock to 1 o'clock, the minute hand travels 360 degrees. On the other hand the hour hand

travels 1/12 of 360 degrees. Or in a different thinking, in a specific time period (t) minutes,

the minute hand travels (360 * t) / 60 degrees But at the same time the hour hand only travels

1/12 of that degree: (360 * t) / (60 * 12) degrees.

An other equation comes from the passed hours. Each passing hour the minute hand

completes a full cycle. Let's say that the hour hand traveled (n) degrees. So we can say at

when they overlap each other the minute hand traveled (360 + n) degrees at the same time as

hour hand.

So we can now say that while hour hand travels (n) degrees the minute hand will travel

(12*n) degrees. The result that will outcome from this additional equation with first

mathematical equation will be as follows:

12 * n = 360 + n

Of course 360 degrees is true if only 1 hour has passed.

If two hours passed, then the formula will be: 12 * n = 360*2 + n

So we can re-formulate the equation as follows:

12 * n = 360 * h + n

Now replace n the degree the hour hand traveled in time t, (360*t)/(60*12)

12 * (360*t)/(60*12) = 360 * h + (360*t)/(60*12)

11 * (360*t)/(60*12) = 360 * h

11 * t / 2 = 360 * h

11 * t = 720 * h

For first hour we can replace h with 1 and we can solve the equation for first overlap after

12:00 o'clock

t = 720 /11 = 65,45 minutes

There is an other tricky conversion here the decimal part of the time. We need to convert it to

seconds.

0,45 minutes = 45/100 minutes = 45*60/100 seconds= 27 seconds

So the first overlap is at 65 minutes 27 seconds later which means 1:05:27

Then we can continue calculation for the second overlap of clock's hands. This will occur

between 2 o'clock and 3 o'clock. This means minute hand of the clock will travel 2 times full

circle and plus the same amount as hour hand.

We will make our reference frame that of the Hour Hand. (Either would work.) The problem

will exist from the perspective of someone stood on the Hour Hand with no other visual cues;

all he can see is the minute hand. In the external reference frame the Minute Hand moved

with speed (or angular velocity, since we are now speaking physics) 1 revolutions per hour

and the Hour Hand with 1/12th. To move into the frame of reference of the Hour Hand we

subtract it's speed from that of the Minute Hand to give the Minute Hand's speed in the Hour

Hand's reference frame. As in 1 - 1/12th. In our new frame of reference the Minute Hand

moves at an angular velocity of 11/12ths revolutions per hour. Coincidence or overlap occurs

every time the Minute Hand makes a complete revolution. The question of how many

revolutions something moving at 11/12ths revolutions per hour makes in a 12 hour period is

trivial.

If we have by now proven that there are 11 overlaps in a 12 hour period, clearly there are 22

overlaps in a 24 hour period.

the same as above but lets go for it.

The first approach is probably the most obvious; it's the most mechanically intuitive. We'll

use a variable 't' the time in hours. We know the speeds of the hands by definition the Minute

Hand will move one full rotation or 360 per hour. The Hour Hand makes a full rotation in 12

hours and will therefore move at 30 per hour. The first straight line after midnight will be

just after half an hour. We are looking for a point where the position of the hour hand plus

180 degrees is equal to the position of the minute hand.

Hour Hand + 180

30t + 180

t + 6

6

t

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

=

Minute Hand

360t

12t

11t

6/11

.545454.. hours

32.727272.. minutes

32min 43.636363..seconds

Both AM and PM

01:05:27

02:10:55

03:16:22

04:21:49

05:27:16

06:32:44

07:38:11

08:43:38

09:49:05

10:54:33

12:00:00

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