Where Are Parabolas in Nature?

Some examples of a parabola in nature are a water fountain and a parabolic dune. When a fountain shoots water into the air, it takes a parabolic trajectory when it reaches its peak and curves downward in a U shape. Similarly, the formation of a parabolic dune in a desert occurs through wind erosion of vegetation.

A parabolic dune has a convex pointed end and two trailing long arms. Although these are two examples of parabolic shapes in nature, there are many applications of parabolic shapes in the real world, such as the path of a ball kicked into the air, car headlights, parabolic mirrors and receivers and the suspensions cables found on the Golden Gate Bridge.

In math, a parabola is a U-shaped curve and is also a quadratic function.