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### Everyday Uses of Conics

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Date: 05/24/99 at 12:37:43
From: Holly
Subject: Everyday uses of Conics

I have a project coming up in which I am supposed to construct a model
of a commonly used object in the shape of a conic. I would like to
know if there are any interesting everyday uses for parabolas,
ellipses, or hyperbolas. I know of a few, like a spoon, a bridge, a
football, and maybe an egg, but I think almost everyone in my class
has those very same ideas. I have searched your pages, other Web
sites, and books on conics, and have not found anything that could
help me. I would appreciate it very much if you could assist me with
some ideas.

Thanks,
Holly.
```

```
Date: 05/25/99 at 23:41:47
From: Doctor Tom
Subject: Re: Everyday uses of Conics

Hi Holly,

If you have a light in a lampshade, the shape of the shadow on a flat
wall is a hyperbola.

If you have a planet going around a sun, the shape of the orbit is an
ellipse. If it's a comet that's going to escape from the solar system,
it's a hyperbola.

The reflectors in car headlights are parabolas rotated around so that
the light from the bulb (at the focus of the parabola) will all be
directed straight out from the car.

Any circle looks like an ellipse when viewed at an angle.

I hope this helps.

- Doctor Tom, The Math Forum
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
```
Associated Topics:
Middle School Conic Sections/Circles
Middle School Geometry

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