Straight Rod Passing Through Curved Hole

This was at the Science Museum in Valencia, Spain. Although it looks impossible, this solid metal bar can pass through a curved slot. It works because the rod is angled and rotated through space by a three-dimensional shape with a hyperbolic cross-section. Therefore if the slot is the exact shape of this hyperbola, the rigid straight rod can pass through it. 

It’s a really good thing to look at if you want to know how time/space is curved. What the hole in the plastic represents is not the shape of the pole but a cross-section of the pole plotted against time. Really nice geometry.

Ali Kaya


Ali Kaya

This is Ali. Bespectacled and mustachioed father, math blogger, and soccer player. I also do consult for global math and science startups.

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