Hyperbolic Curves

Straight lines can be used to approximate curves.

How it Works

Turn a wheel to pull straight strings in different directions.

Things to Try or Ask Around the Exhibit

  • The strings remain straight, but can you see shapes that appear to have curved edges emerge?
  • How can you make this illusion more convincing?

Background

Curved surfaces can be formed from straight lines - in this case from the negative space around the lines.

This shape is called a hyperboloid.

Finding the Science in Your World

Building such as Centrepoint Tower in Sydney use hyperboloids as structural elements, forming the high tension cables to form a hyperboloid.

Computers use square pixels to draw curved elements on digital displays in a similar way.