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Things of interest in Maths & Science

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This morning I looked at my lamp, and wondered what curve it was projecting on the wall. I did some maths, and figured out it was a hyperbola.  This is nice, as it gives you a geometrical idea of how a hyperbola can be created- just project from a bulb in the middle of a lamp shade to a wall! I made this animation to show how the curve changes as the lamp does. Can you see why the curve tends to a straight line on either side? [mathematica code]   [more]

This morning I looked at my lamp, and wondered what curve it was projecting on the wall. I did some maths, and figured out it was a hyperbola.  This is nice, as it gives you a geometrical idea of how a hyperbola can be created- just project from a bulb in the middle of a lamp shade to a wall! I made this animation to show how the curve changes as the lamp does. Can you see why the curve tends to a straight line on either side? [mathematica code]   [more]

  1. eyelovepi reblogged this from matthen and added:
    This is cool! My next post will be a cone sliced by a plane, with the cone being the light emitted by a flashlight, and...
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    I love bringing in a stage light to class whenever we talk about conics. I turn off the lights and show it on different...
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Matt Henderson

I post original stuff about maths, space, computational linguistics and other things that I like. This blog is meant to be accessible and interesting to people of all backgrounds. My undergrad was maths in Cambridge, and I'm now starting research in Speech and Language technology. Email me at If you're new, check out this overview of my posts. All code posted is in Mathematica.

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