June 7, 2010

Mathematical Elegance

With a shape of a flattened catenary, the St. Louis Gateway Arch exudes mathematical elegance. A catenary is the idealized shaped formed by a chain when hanged on its ends and acted only by its own weight.

Because the Arch narrows as it nears the top, its shape would correspond to the shape a weighted chain would take if the links in the middle are lighter.

The equation to describe tha Arch's shape would be y=693.8597-68.7672cosh(0.0100333x)

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