It’s an annual problem as seasonal as Jingle Bells – spend ages decorating the Christmas tree, stand back to admire it then find garlands hanging forlornly and Christmas tree lights, dense on one side and sparse on the other. Now a solution exists.
A group of mathematics students at the University of Sheffield in the UK has come up with formulae to calculate the optimal amounts of garlands and baubles required to achieve that perfectly balanced, aesthetically pleasing Christmas conifer – and they’ve called it Treegonometry.
Applying the science of maths, reports the Times of Malta, the perennial Yuletide problem of a tree too bare or too cluttered – or even too cluttered and too bare all at once, should become a thing of the past. Budding Einsteins at Sheffield University have devised mathematical formulae designed to banish the lop-sided Christmas spruce -- you need never be embarrassed by a tree that looks like it’s had one too many Christmas spirits again, and the appliance of science might just prevent a few Christmas arguments.
Now here’s the difficult bit – the math. The formulae, which, have been taken up by UK department store Debenhams, to assist shoppers are as follows:-
University of Sheffield
Treegonometry by the University of Sheffield - Mathematical formulae for how to decorate a Christmas Tree
For the mathematically challenged, the University of Sheffield website contains a handy online calculator.
The formulae were created by Sheffield University students Nicole Wrightham and Alex Craig, both aged 20. Nicole said, “The formulas took us about two hours to complete. We hope the formulas will play a part in making Christmas that little bit easier for everyone."
The formulae can be used for any size tree as illustrated on the University of Sheffield website. It quotes the example of this year’s tree in Trafalgar Square in London. The tree is 21 metres tall and would require 433 baubles, over 100 metres of tinsel, 65 metres of lights and a 2 metre tall star to top it off. There was no information on the University of Sheffield website on whether students had checked if this year’s Trafalgar Square tree was a model of mathematical perfection.
French news website 20 minutes was grudgingly Scrooge-like in its admiration for the Sheffield students' ingenuity. It pointed out the formulae did not take into account the surface area of the conical shape of the Christmas tree and gave the Sheffield students 14 out of 20 for their Treegonometry theorem.
Oh, well, have a symmetrical Christmas – but go easy on the mince πs.