Everyday Uses of Conics
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/
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