Throwing a Curve

In 2009, mathematician Jeff Chyatte and his colleagues at Maryland’s Montgomery College built a mathematical sculpture: An inclined rod is connected at its center to a horizontal arm, which is connected to a rotating vertical axis. As the axis rotates, the rod passes through a vertical plane.

What shape does the rod cut in the plane? Perhaps surprisingly, it’s a hyperbola. See the video above for an explanation. Chyatte’s sculpture was displayed at Washington’s Touchstone Gallery with the title “Theorem.”

(“Just Passing Through,” Math Horizons 16:4 [April 2009], 16.)