Monday, July 08, 2013

The 51-Star Flag

As the fireworks and festivities of this long fourth of July weekend have faded, many Americans are either trudging back to their offices with a food coma or embracing the week with a fervor that only a patriotic afterglow can provide. For the latter group, we've got some patriotic math research to report.

Although no new states have joined the U.S. for over half a century, there's been a renewed push to induct Puerto Rico as the 51st state. This fact coupled with the ongoing campaign for D.C.'s statehood raises the possibility of a new state and, consequently, the need for a new U.S. flag.

One possibility for a 51-star flag. Image Credit: Inside Science/Skip Garibaldi

So what would a 51-star flag look like? Mathematician Skip Garibaldi (Emory University) answered that question with a computer simulation, revealing several possibilities. So what's the best 51-star flag? That depends upon your aesthetic preferences.

Stars can be arranged in a rectangle, circle, star, or some combination thereof. Check out the video below to see just a few of the options.

Slate has also put together a widget to compare how past designs would look for flags with greater than 50 stars. Check it out below.

 And for your reference, here's a painting of all the U.S.'s past flags in chronological order.

Image Credit: Zimand via Wikimedia Commons

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