The Importance of the Parabola

Essay by Phoenix_FireHigh School, 10th gradeB, February 2005

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The Importance of the Parabola

What exactly is a parabola? Well it could quite possibly be the most powerful shape that our world has ever known. It is used in many designs since it is so sturdy and powerful. Countless structures and devices use the parabola and it does nothing but enhance whatever it is used in. What makes it so powerful? Just keep reading and find out.

Used in bridges, doors and buildings, the shape of the parabola is used throughout the world of structures. Most of the time, it is used as an arch or an arc. Have you ever seen a castle or even a movie with a castle in it? Well usually on the big great front doors, you will see it lined with stones ending in a curve at the top. Usually the top-center stone is the biggest. It is the key stone to an arc structure like that.

All the other stones in the curve try and slide into the middle, but they are stopped by the one on top. They all squeeze together towards the middle and the key stone at the center takes all this pressure and keeps it together. If something is set on top of that curve, the curve will take the weight and try and push towards the middle, but since the stones are set to a curve, they push on each other and stay firm. This design is used in bridges and even cars for strength.

Another use of the parabola is in lights. Headlights, searchlights, flashlights and more. The reflective mirrors inside are one big parabola. The light is shone in the middle and the curved mirrors shoot the light out of the bottom of the parabola. There is no direction that the light can be shone...