Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Conics and Applications

  1. Aug 9, 2011 #1
    So I've been wondering for a long time: How are conics studied in Calculus and Analytic Geometry? Also, how are they applied in real-life situations, whether it's something as simple as construction, or something as complex as physics and engineering.

    Ever since I studied conics in my Intermediate Algebra class, I've been very curious about them.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2011 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Simple planetary orbits are all some type of conic.

    Trigonometry derives from studying properties of the circle.
  4. Aug 23, 2011 #3


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    Uses of conic sections include optics. Ellipses have medical applications because radiation from one focus will be reflected from the surface and collect and concentrate at the other focus. This can be used to break kidney stone material (maybe this is acoustics and not optics?). Flashlights can have a reflective surface shaped as a parabola with light source being reflected straight all parallel in the direction which the flashlight is pointed; its light source is located at the focus.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook