Problem #1850

1850.

Real numbers $a$ and $b$ are chosen with $1<a<b$ such that no triangles with positive area has side lengths $1, a,$ and $b$ or $\tfrac{1}{b}, \tfrac{1}{a},$ and $1$. What is the smallest possible value of $b$?

$\textbf{(A)}\ \frac{3+\sqrt{3}}{2}\qquad\textbf{(B)}\ \frac{5}{2}\qquad\textbf{(C)}\ \frac{3+\sqrt{5}}{2}\qquad\textbf{(D)}\ \frac{3+\sqrt{6}}{2}\qquad\textbf{(E)}\ 3$

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Instructions for entering answers:

  • Reduce fractions to lowest terms and enter in the form 7/9.
  • Numbers involving pi should be written as 7pi or 7pi/3 as appropriate.
  • Square roots should be written as sqrt(3), 5sqrt(5), sqrt(3)/2, or 7sqrt(2)/3 as appropriate.
  • Exponents should be entered in the form 10^10.
  • If the problem is multiple choice, enter the appropriate (capital) letter.
  • Enter points with parentheses, like so: (4,5)
  • Complex numbers should be entered in rectangular form unless otherwise specified, like so: 3+4i. If there is no real component, enter only the imaginary component (i.e. 2i, NOT 0+2i).

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