1996 AHSME Problems/Problem 27


Consider two solid spherical balls, one centered at $\left(0, 0,\frac{21}{2}\right)$ with radius $6$, and the other centered at $(0, 0, 1)$ with radius $\frac{9}{2}$. How many points with only integer coordinates (lattice points) are there in the intersection of the balls?

$\text{(A)}\ 7\qquad\text{(B)}\ 9\qquad\text{(C)}\ 11\qquad\text{(D)}\ 13\qquad\text{(E)}\ 15$

Solution 1

The two equations of the balls are

\[x^2 + y^2 + \left(z - \frac{21}{2}\right)^2 \le 36\]

\[x^2 + y^2 + (z - 1)^2 \le \frac{81}{4}\]

Note that along the $z$ axis, the first ball goes from $10.5 \pm 6$, and the second ball goes from $1 \pm 4.5$. The only integer value that $z$ can be is $z=5$.

Plugging that in to both equations, we get:

\[x^2 + y^2 \le \frac{23}{4}\]

\[x^2 + y^2 \le \frac{17}{4}\]

The second inequality implies the first inequality, so the only condition that matters is the second inequality.

From here, we do casework, noting that $|x|, |y| \le 3$:

For $x=\pm 2$, we must have $y=0$. This gives $2$ points.

For $x = \pm 1$, we can have $y\in \{-1, 0, 1\}$. This gives $2\cdot 3 = 6$ points.

For $x = 0$, we can have $y \in \{-2, -1, 0, 1, 2\}$. This gives $5$ points.

Thus, there are $\boxed{13}$ possible points, giving answer $\boxed{D}$.

Solution 2 (minimal 3D geometry)

Because both spheres have their centers on the x-axis, we can simplify the graph a bit by looking at a 2-dimensional plane (the previous z-axis is the new x-axis while the y-axis remains the same).

The spheres now become circles with centers at $(1,0)$ and $(\frac{21}{2},0)$. They have radii $\frac{9}{2}$ and $6$, respectively. Let circle $A$ be the circle centered on $(1,0)$ and circle $B$ be the one centered on $(\frac{21}{2},0)$.

The point on circle $A$ closest to the center of circle $B$ is $(\frac{11}{2},0)$. The point on circle B closest to the center of circle $A$ is $(\frac{11}{2},0)$.

Taking a look back at the 3-dimensional coordinate grid with the spheres, we can see that their intersection appears to be a circle with congruent "dome" shapes on either end. Because the tops of the "domes" are at $(0,0,\frac{9}{2})$ and $(0,0,\frac{11}{2})$, respectively, the lattice points inside the area of intersection must have z-value $5$ (because $5$ is the only integer between $\frac{9}{2}$ and $\frac{11}{2}$). Thus, the lattice points in the area of intersection must all be on the 2-dimensional circle. The radius of the circle will be the distance from the z-axis.

Now, looking at the 2-dimensional coordinate plane, we see that the radius of the circle (now the distance from the x-axis, because there is no more z-axis) is the altitude of a triangle with two points on centers of circles $A$ and $B$ and third point at the first quadrant intersection of the circles. Let's call that altitude $h$.

We know all three side lengths of this triangle: $\frac{9}{2}$ (the radius of circle $A$), $6$ (the radius of circle $B$), and $\frac{19}{2}$ (the distance between the centers of circles $A$ and $B$). We can now find the area of the triangle using Heron's formula:



Using the area of the triangle, we can find that altitude $h$ from the x-axis:



Remember, the altitude $h$ is also the radius of the circle containing all the solutions to the problem.

Going back to the 3-dimensional grid and looking at the circle, we can again make the figure 2-dimensional.

The radius $h$ of the circle in a 2-dimensional plane is $\frac{4\sqrt{110}}{19}$, a little greater than $2$. We know that $h>2$ because $4\sqrt{110}>4*10$, and $\frac{40}{19}>2$.

Finally, looking at a circle with radius slightly larger than $2$, we see that there are $\boxed{13}$ lattice points within it $\boxed{D}$.

See also

1996 AHSME (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 26
Followed by
Problem 28
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