16 Parabola Examples in Real Life

Parabola

A parabola is nothing but a U-shaped plane curve. Any point on the parabola is equidistant from a fixed point called the focus and a fixed straight line known as the directrix.

Terms related to Parabola

1. Focus

Any point on the parabola is equidistant from a fixed point and a fixed straight line. Here, the fixed point is known as the focus. It lies on the axis of symmetry of the parabola.

2. Directrix

Any point on the parabola is equidistant from a fixed point and a fixed straight line. Here, the fixed straight line is known as the directrix. Directrix is perpendicular to the axis of symmetry of the parabola.

3. Axis of Symmetry

The axis of symmetry is an imaginary straight line that is perpendicular to the directrix and passes through the focus.

4. Vertex

Vertex is the point where the parabola makes its sharpest turn. It is located right in the middle of the focus and the directrix.

Properties of Parabola

1. Eccentricity is the measure of the amount by which a figure deviates from a circle. The eccentricity of any parabola is 1.

2. Parabolas are symmetric about their axis.

3. The axis of symmetry passes through the vertex and the focus and is perpendicular to the directrix.

4. A tangent drawn at the vertex of a parabola is parallel to the directrix.

5. The vertex is the midpoint of the focus and the point of intersection of the directrix and axis.

6. Tangents drawn to any point on the directrix are perpendicular.

7. The rays incident parallel to the axis of symmetry get reflected off the surface and converge at the focus.

Examples of Parabola

1. Kicking the ball

When you kick a soccer ball, it arcs up into the air and comes down again, following the path of a parabola.

The Physics of Football and Football Penalty - FIFA Worldcup 2014| Vivax Solutions

 

2. Shooting an arrow

When you shoot an arrow, it arcs up into the air and comes down again, following the path of a parabola.

Shooting an arrow, parabola example

 

3. Throwing a stone

When you throw a stone, it arcs up into the air and comes down again, following the path of a parabola.

Learn Condition for Trajectories of Projected Bodies in 2 minutes.

 

4. Satellite Dishes

A satellite dish is a type of parabolic antenna that receives or transmits information by radio waves to or from a communication satellite.

Top Satellite Dish Stickers for Android & iOS | Gfycat

 

5. Parabolic trough

Parabolic troughs are solar thermal collectors that are curved in three dimensions as a parabola, lined with polished metal mirrors. These are many used to concentrate the sun’s rays to make a hot spot.

S01e01 Parabolic Trough GIF | Gfycat

6. Spotlight reflectors

Spotlights have parabolic reflectors that are used to project a bright beam of light onto a performance space.

Zoom gets smaller with AMY-25-ZOOM - LEDiL

7. Flashlight

A flashlight or torch has a parabolic reflector that gives a variable-focus effect from a wide floodlight to a narrow beam.

Torch | 3D CAD Model Library | GrabCAD

8. Parabolic microphone

A parabolic microphone has a parabolic reflector that collects and focuses sound waves onto a transducer.

A person is monitoring frog calls with a parabolic microphone

9. Automobile headlight

Automobile headlamps have parabolic reflectors that collect and focus the beam of light to illuminate the road ahead.

Car parabolic reflector

10. Ballistic missile

A Ballistic missile delivers warheads on a target by using projectile motion. The trajectory of these missiles makes a parabolic path.

Parabolic path of a ballistic missile

Parabolic path of a ballistic missile

11. Jump of a Dolphin

The jump of a dolphin is known as porpoising. According to some research, dolphins use their jump as a method of communication. If you look at a dolphin’s porpoising, you will observe that they trace a parabolic path while performing the jump.

Jump of a Dolphin

12. Camera

Many cameras use an assembly of parabolic mirrors to take wide-angle shots.

Camera setup with parabolic mirrors

 

13. IR Spectrometer

Some gated spectrometers use a pair of 90-degree off-axis parabolic mirrors to relay the light from an entrance slit to an output IR recording camera.

Optical components used for the IR spectrometer

Optical components used for the IR spectrometer

 

14. Parabolic dunes

Parabolic dunes are formed when strong winds erode a section of the vegetated sand (commonly referred to as a blowout). Parabolic dunes are common in the sand sheet southwest of the main dune field.

Parabolic dune animation

 

15. Reflecting telescopes

Some reflecting telescopes use parabolic mirrors to reduce spherical aberration with no chromatic aberration.

Telescope with parabolic mirrors

A telescope with parabolic mirrors

 

16. Parabolic Wifi antenna

A parabolic wifi device uses a parabolic antenna that is backed with a parabolic reflector that directs waves, in this case, wifi waves, to the antenna, enhancing the wifi signal.

Parabolic antenna

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