# Puzzles

## Two tangents

Find a line which is tangent to the curve \(y=x^4-4x^3\) at 2 points.

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At \(x=a\), \(y=a^4-4a^2\) and \(\frac{dy}{dx}=4a^3-12a^2\). Therefore the equation of the tangent at \(x=a\) will be \(y=(4a^3-12a^2)x+8a^3-3a^4\).

Taking this away from \(y=x^4-4x^3\) gives \(y=x^4-4x^3-(4a^3-12a^2)x-8a^3+3a^4\). We can now look at where this curve is tangent to \(y=0\) and look for a value of \(a\) that makes it tangent at two points.

If this curve is tangent to the \(x\)-axis at \(x=b\), then it will have a repeated root at \(x=b\). We know it is tangent at \(x=a\), so dividing \(x^4-4x^3-(4a^3-12a^2)x-8a^3+3a^4\) by \((x-a)\) twice gives \(x^2+(2a-4)x+3a^2-8a\). We want this to have a repeated root, hence the discriminant, \((2a-4)^2-4(3a^2-8a)\), must be 0.

Solving this gives \(a=1\pm\sqrt3\).

Therefore the equation of the line is \(y=-8x-4\).