What is the shape of a hanging cable?
January 22, 2013
Bailey Hall 207
Refreshments will be served in Bailey Hall 204 at 4:30
If you think that a cable suspended between two poles looks like a parabola, you're in good company. Galileo (~1600) thought so, too. But, in 1646 at age 17, Christiaan Huygens showed that Galileo was wrong! Later, Huygens coined the name "catenary" for the shape of a hanging cable. In 1691, Huygens, Leibniz, and one of the Bernoulli brothers, discovered an equation for this curve. In this talk, we will use exponential functions and integral calculus to derive an equation for the catenary curve.
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