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Beck 30 April 2008

**Conic Section Applications: Hyperbola
**

By definition, a hyperbola is “the set of points in the plane for which the difference of the distances to two points is constant. Each of the two points is called a focus, or focal point, of the hyperbola” (Connally 543). Visually, hyperbolas look like two curved, open mouths facing opposite directions, usually left and right. The two “mouths” can also be facing up and down. There are many natural phenomena that involve hyperbolas. For example, sonic booms are created when an object exceeds the speed of sound in air. The shock wave of a sonic boom takes the shape of a cone, and when it intersects the ground, it takes the shape of a hyperbola. Every point on the curve is hit at the same time, so everyone on the ground will hear the sound at the same time. Another application of hyperbolas involves radio waves. When there are two points where radio signals are emitted, the signals form concentric circles intersecting each other. The patterns created by the intersecting circles of radio waves form the shapes of hyperbolas. This is the basis for the LORAN long-range navigation system. This system uses the time difference between the receipts of radio signals from two different stations to geographically fix the location of the receiver on the hyperbola. Because exact location cannot be determined simply using two sets of waves, a third station is used to triangulate the exact location of the receiver. This system was created by Americans in response to a similar, more primitive British system used in World War II. Early LORAN systems had a range of 1200 miles. Systems built during World War II were used extensively by the US Navy. It was originally known as LRN, for Loomis radio navigation, after physicist Alfred Loomis, who created the system. LORAN remained the most popular form of long-range navigation until the creation of GPS. In order for the LORAN system to fully work, a chain of three radio stations is necessary. One of these stations is designated the master stations, and the other two are called secondary stations. Each station sends out timed pulses at the speed of light. Each station has a unique time delay to distinguish from each others’ waves. These signals reach the LORAN receiver, which is often located on a ship or airplane. By analyzing the time

Garg 2 delays between sending and receiving the pulses, the exact geographical location of the receiver may be determined. The LORAN system is based mostly off the fact that distance equals the product of velocity and time. If velocity of the radio waves remains constant, the time difference between the arrivals of the waves is directly proportional to the distance between the transmitting station and the receiver. Here is an example of the system:

Let’s say that points M and X represent two transmitting stations. Point A represents the LORAN receiver. According to the definition of a hyperbola, the difference of distance from point A to points M and X is the same as if point A was moved along the hyperbola formed by the radio waves. Using this method of thought, we can find the hyperbolic line on which point A is located. We can use an additional transmitting station to find the exact location. Here is some of the math needed to find the differences of the distances, assuming that the coordinates of point A are (a,b): dAM=b2+(a+200)2 These equations are both derived using the dAX=b2+(a-200)2 Pythagorean Theorem. differenceAM-AX= dAM-dAX This equation gives the difference of the distances. After we have found the difference of the distances, we can use further mathematics to discover the equation of the hyperbola. Now, we have a much smaller range of points on which the receiver may be located. Lastly, we need to repeat the same process with one of the original transmitting stations and another station, so that we can find the intersection of the two hyperbolas and determine the exact location of the receiver.

Garg 3

In this picture, S1 and M are the foci for one hyperbola, and S2 and M are the foci for another hyperbola. The intersection of these hyperbolas gives the location of the receiver. We only need to use radio wave time delays to calculate the paths of the hyperbolas.

Works Cited

Britton, Jill. "Occurrence of the Conics." Jill Britton's Home Page. 04 Jan. 2008. Camosun College. 29 Apr. 2008 <http://britton.disted.camosun.bc.ca/jbconics.htm>. Connally, Eric. Functions Modeling Change. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007. 543-546. "Hyperbolic Systems." The American Practical Navigator. 29 Apr. 2008 <http://www.irbs.com/bowditch/pdf/chapt12.pdf>. "The Mathematics of Loran." Math Central. University of Regina. 29 Apr. 2008 <http://mathcentral.uregina.ca/beyond/articles/LoranGPS/Loran.html>.

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UsefulNot usefulA study on hyperbolas and their applications in the real world.

A study on hyperbolas and their applications in the real world.

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