Thus the curve of the first order or right line consists of one branch; but in curves of the second order, or conics, the ellipse and the parabola consist each of one branch, the hyperbola of two branches.

When the conic is a parabola the meridian line is a catenary (fig.

In ancient geometry the name was restricted to the three particular forms now designated the ellipse, parabola and hyperbola, and this sense is still retained in general works.

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And at equal horizontal intervals, the vertices of the funicular will lie on a parabola whose axis is vertical.

A body moving in a parabola or hyperbola would recede indefinitely from its centre of motion and never return to it.

The graph of F is a straight line; that of M is a parabola with vertical axis.

It may be regarded as an epicycloid in which the rolling and fixed circles are equal in diameter, as the inverse of a parabola for its focus, or as the caustic produced by the reflection at a spherical surface of rays emanating from a point on the circumference.

To construct the parabola when the focus and directrix are given, draw the axis CD and bisect CF at G, which gives the vertex.

As regards the so-called hyperbolisms, observe that (besides the single asymptote) we have in the case of those of the hyperbola two parallel asymptotes; in the case of those of the ellipse the two parallel asymptotes become imaginary, that is, they disappear; and in the case of those of the parabola they become coincident, that is, there is here an ordinary asymptote, and a special asymptote answering to a cusp at infinity.

A solution by means of the parabola and hyperbola was given by Dionysodorus of Amisus (c. 1st century B.c), and a similar problem - to construct a segment equal in volume to a given segment, and in surface to another segment - was solved by the Arabian mathematician and astronomer, Al Kuhi.