The next time you play a video game, thank geometry for the realistic look to the landscape and the characters that inhabit the game’s virtual world. Besides helping computer designers build virtual realities, geometry’s applications in the real world include architecture, computer-aided manufacturing, medicine, biology, physical sciences and much more.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Applications of geometry in the real world include computer-aided design for construction blueprints, the design of assembly systems in manufacturing, nanotechnology, computer graphics, visual graphs, video game programming and virtual reality creation. Geometry also plays a role in global positioning systems, cartography, astronomy, and geometry even helps robots see things.
CAD and Architecture
Before a contractor builds a structure, someone must design the building’s shape and create blueprints. A computer outfitted with computer-aided design software contains the math to render the visual images on the screen. Some CAD programs can also create a simulation that allows you to see what the finished space looks like in a simulated walk-through.
Robotics, Computer and Video Games
Though most gamers appreciate speed over real life effects, geometry provides both for computer and video game programmers. The way that characters move through their virtual worlds requires geometric computations to create paths around the obstacles populating the virtual world. Video game engines typically employ raycasting, which is a technique that simulates a 3-D world using a 2-D map. Using this form of geometry helps speed up processing because calculations are only done for the vertical lines on the screen. The same geometry helps a robot to see.
Geographic Information Systems
Geometry plays a significant role in global positioning systems which require three coordinates to calculate location. A satellite equipped with a GPS system uses a form of geometry not unlike that used to calculate a right triangle. It involves the position of the satellite in the sky, the location of the GPS position on Earth identified by longitude and latitude, and the distance from that location to the place on Earth that equates to the satellite’s position in the sky.
Star Maps and Space Travel
Geometry plays a role in calculating the location of galaxies, solar systems, planets, stars and other moving bodies in space. Geometry calculations between coordinates also help to chart a trajectory for a space vehicle’s journey and its entry point into a planet’s atmosphere. NASA scientists use geometry to compute the journey of a vehicle sent to Mars. They calculate the elliptical orbits and the correct angle to enter a planet’s atmosphere and land on the surface.
- University of California Irvine: Geometry in Action
- University of California Irvine: Geometry in Action: Architecture
- University of California Irvine: Geometry in Action: Video and Computer Game Programming
- Budapest University of Technology and Economics: Role of The Geometry in GPS Positioning
- NASA: Geometry Drives Selection Date for 2011 Mars Launch
- University of California Irvine: Geometry in Action: Robotics
About the Author
As a journalist and editor for several years, Laurie Brenner has covered many topics in her writings, but science is one of her first loves. Her stint as Manager of the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in California's gold country served to deepen her interest in science which she now fulfills by writing for online science websites. Brenner is also a published sci-fi author. She graduated from San Diego's Coleman College in 1972.