How It Works
HOW DOES A PARABOLIC COLLECTOR WORK?
The unique shape of the parabolic collector allows anything coming into the dish, that is parallel to the center line of the dish, to be focused onto a single point. This shape is based on a mathematical formula called a parabola. That is where parabolic collectors get their name.
This focusing effect works with light, electromagnet energy or sound energy. Satellite dishes use this same concept to gather electromagnetic signals from space. According to Wikipedia, German physicist Heinrich Hertz constructed the world’s first parabolic reflector antenna in 1888, but the principle of parabolic reflectors has been known since classical antiquity, when the mathematician Diocles described them in his book On Burning Mirrors and proved that they focus a parallel beam to a point. Acoustic Mirrors used the same effect to detect enemy aircraft prior to the invention of radar.