The Surprising Uses of Conic Sections
Gresham College Lectures
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Gresham College Lectures
The Surprising Uses of Conic Sections
Apr 27, 2022
Gresham College

Conic sections – the curves made by slicing through cones at various angles – were studied by the ancient Greeks, but because of their useful properties, have many real-world uses. Planets have elliptical orbits, projectiles move in parabolas, and cooling towers have hyperbolic cross-sections. But did you know that one of the most important curves in economics is a hyperbola? Or that ellipses are used to cure kidney stones?

A lecture by Sarah Hart

The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:

Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently over 2,000 lectures free to access or download from the website.


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