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January 23rd, 2009, 07:15 PM  #1 
Newbie Joined: Jan 2009 Posts: 2 Thanks: 0  what does sine, cosine, tangent etc mean?
i have searched all over the internet and i can't find the meaning for them other than how to find them... is there a purpose for doing sine, cosine, tangent, secant, cosecant, and contangent?? much of the things i find are not detailed enough. 
January 24th, 2009, 12:28 PM  #2 
Global Moderator Joined: Dec 2006 Posts: 20,934 Thanks: 2208 
They are useful in many areas of mathematics, including practical applications such as navigation and surveying.

January 24th, 2009, 05:53 PM  #3 
Newbie Joined: Jan 2009 Posts: 2 Thanks: 0  Re: what does sine, cosine, tangent etc mean?
how does it relate to all of these fields of occupations? i don't really get trigonometry much, though i know how to solve the problems. how does it relate to things in our physical world or for the things in our lives? i can only relate trigonometry to the use of graphs and polar coordinates.(maybe that's what you meant by navigation) 
January 25th, 2009, 05:22 AM  #4 
Global Moderator Joined: Dec 2006 Posts: 20,934 Thanks: 2208 
Here's a simple navigation problem that can be solved easily using trigonometry. An aircraft's airspeed (its speed relative to the air it's flying through rather than relative to the ground) is constant at 300 miles per hour and the air that the aircraft is flying through is moving horizontally at a constant 30 miles per hour towards the southwest. In order that the aircraft actually flies due east at constant altitude, how many degrees north of east must the pilot aim the nose of the aircraft and what will the aircraft's groundspeed then be? (To keep things simple, ignore the earth's curvature.) 

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