Every day for lunch I eat salad (made with vegetables from our local farmers’ market or from our college’s organic farm) and homemade yogurt and granola. The only time I ever eat fast food is on long car trips. So why, I ask you, did the question “What shape are the golden arches?” pop into my head?
I have no idea. But once it did, I just had to investigate. A quick internet search was inconclusive. Commenters on discussion forums assert that they are a pair of parabolas or a pair of catenary curves. But the credibility of the sources is questionable. So I thought I’d see what I could determine using Geogebra.
It turns out that the arches are definitely not parabolas (I didn’t think they were). The catenary is a good fit, but it still isn’t quite perfect. The best fit is an ellipse (or part of an ellipse)! Check out the applet that I made, and see for yourself.