Parabolic Arch

Topics: Arch, Ancient Rome, Parabola Pages: 1 (365 words) Published: June 2, 2008
A parabolic arch is a very complex, yet extremely simple arch all at the same time. It is also referred to as a catenary arch. It was developed fairly recently and is used around the world. This arch consists of a relatively simple equation, and one can discover many of its characteristics from its equation if he or she makes use of it. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this equation is that one of the landmarks in the United States is a catenary arch.

To begin, many arches were developed before the catenary ach and the parabolic arch were produced. Many of these arches, which were used by the ancient Romans, were semicircular and had keystones at the topmost part of them. However, these were some of the weakest arches made, despite the fact that this particular arch’s shape is the simplest to build. Later, the catenary and parabolic arch were introduced into construction by a Spanish architect named Antoni Gaudi. These arches were theoretically some of the strongest ever made.

The parabolic curve, or arch, was formally discovered by the ancient Greeks. The mathematical genius of this curve is that the focus to the curve and the curve to the directrix is the same length. Therefore, when one applies pressure to the curve or arch, the entire arch is able to hold the weight, and it doesn’t fail because there isn’t a single weak point on the curve. I find this detail quite extraordinary.

The most interesting thing that I came across in my research on parabolic and catenary arches is that the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Missouri is a sculpture based on a catenary arch. I believe that it is a feat of great ingenuity. Construction began in 1963 and ended in 1965, and the finished structure cost fifteen million dollars to construct. It marks the start of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Parabolic arches are the best arches anyone could ever use when designing anything that requires one. It is the most structurally-sound arch and can stand the...
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