# The Straight Line and the circle

## (Note: All the images are interactive, move the points around to see. Dynamic mathematics interactive web page with Cinderella )

A moving point describes a straight line when it passes from one
position to another along the shortest possible path. A straight line
can be drawn with the help of a ruler; when a pencil runs along the
edge of a ruler it leaves a trace on the paper in the form of a
straight line.

When a point moves on a surface at a constant distance from another
fixed point on the same surface it describes a circle. Because of this
property of the circle we are able to draw a circle with the help of
compasses.

The straight line and the circle are the simplest and at the same time
the most remarkable curves as far as their properties are concerned.

You are no doubt more familiar with these two curves than with
others. But you should not imagine that you know all of the most
important properties of straight lines and curves. For example, you
may not know that if the vertices of the triangles $ABC$ and $AB’C’$
lie on three straight lines intersecting at the point $S$ (Fig. 1),
the three points of intersection $M$, $K$, $L$ of the corresponding
sides of the triangles, the sides $AB$ and $A’B’$, $BC$ and $B’C’$,
and $AC$ and $A’C’$, must be collinear, that is, they lie on a single
straight line.

(Note: this image below is interactive, move the points to see the dynamic change!)

You are sure to know that a point $M$ moving in a plane equidistantly
from two fixed points, say $F_1$, and $F_2$, of the same plane, that
is, so that $MF_{1}= MF_{2}$, describes a straight line (Fig. 2).

But you might find it difficult to answer the question:

What type of curve will point $M$ describe if the distance of $M$ from
$F_1$, is a certain number of times greater than that from $F_2$ (for
instance, in Fig. 3 it is twice as great)?

The curve turns out to be a circle. Hence if the point $M$ moves in a
plane so that the distance of $M$ from one of the fixed
points. $F_{1}$ or $F_{2}$, in the same plane is always proportional
to the distance from the other fixed point, that is

$$MF_{1} = k \times MF_{2}$$

then $M$ describes either a straight line (when the factor of
proportionality is unity) or a circle (when the factor of
proportionality is other than unity).

This is a post to create interactive mathematics elements using Cinderella a Free Software alternative to GeoGebra which is no longer a Free Software. The files have been exported from Cinderella at html interactives)