Parabolas in Everyday Life
Date: 05/18/2001 at 15:24:43 From: Brandon Ledesma Subject: Parabolas in everyday life What has been made from parabola shapes and other stuff?
Date: 05/22/2001 at 02:01:51 From: Doctor Douglas Subject: Re: Parabolas in everyday life Hi Brandon, and thanks for writing to Ask Dr. Math. As it happens, I am sitting atop a mountain in southern Arizona, at 8550 feet above sea level, in an astronomical observatory. I'm helping to take data using the telescope that is described here: Multiple Mirror Observatory (MMTO) http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/mmt/ The key optical element in this telescope is a gigantic mirror http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/mmt/convpix.html whose diameter measures 6.5 meters across. This mirror has a cross section that is parabolic in shape, so as to focus the light from distant galaxies and stars onto an astronomical instrument, such as a CCD camera. There are several other mirrors and lenses in this telescope, and some of them have parabolic surfaces as well. Parabolic mirrors are also used in everyday optical instruments, such as your flashlight, or the headlights of your car. They are also used in dishes for communications systems, such as satellite TV and radar dishes. You can find more examples where parabolas and the other conic sections are used in everyday applications by visiting some of the following Webpages from our archives, and the links therein. Uses of Conics http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/martin.05.09.99.html Practical Uses for Computing Parabolas http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/indon1.30.96.html Applications of Parabolas http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/lau.10.24.00.html I hope this helps answer your question! - Doctor Douglas, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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