Square Wheel (MatheMUSEments!)
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|Ivars Peterson (Math Muse for Kids)|
|A square wheel may be the ultimate flat tire. There's no way it can roll over a flat, smooth road without jolting the rider again and again. Stan Wagon, a mathematician at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, has a bicycle with square wheels. It's a weird contraption, but he can ride it perfectly smoothly. His secret is the shape of the road over which the wheels roll. A square wheel can roll smoothly if it travels over evenly spaced bumps of just the right shape. That special shape is called an inverted catenary. A catenary is the curve formed by a chain or rope hanging loosely between two supports. [Produced 10 times a year by the publishers of Cricket magazine (in association with Smithsonian magazine), Muse features articles and activities for children 8 years old and up.]|
|Levels:||Late Elem. (3-5), Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12), College|
|Math Topics:||Conic Sections and Circles, Triangles and Other Polygons|
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