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Where do I use Trigonometry in real life?

Published on August 11, 2023
Where do I use Trigonometry in real life

Is trigonometry all about sin (θ) and cos (θ)? Have you ever wondered if trigonometry is actually applicable in real life? Or is it just a mere waste of time? 

Well, you are not alone, my friend. Like you, I, as a student, always wondered why I was studying trigonometry! All I could see were triangles, angles, and lots and lots of confusing formulas. I had no idea where I could use them in the real world.

But that was until I realized that trigonometry actually has numerous use cases across various human activities. 

Real-Life Applications of Trigonometry

The applications of trigonometry range from geometry to astronomy, mathematics to aviation, physics, criminology, and the military. Likewise, in the field of science, it is used in physical sciences, oceanography, meteorology, seismology, astronomy,  navigation, acoustics, electronics, architecture, and more! 

Trigonometry is used to determine the length of rivers,measure the height of mountains, and so on. Similarly, spherical trigonometry is used to calculate solar, lunar, and stellar locations. 

Hence, the Trigonometric ratios, such as sin(θ) and cos(θ), that you study in 9th and 10th grades are the foundation for applying trigonometry in the real world. Now, let’s see some simple examples of the applications of trigonometry in the real world!

Where Can We Use Trigonometry in Real-Life?  

Trigonometry in Measuring Heights

Consider that you want to measure the height of a pole that is 2km away and stands erect at a 90-degree angle. Knowing the distance between you and the pole and the angle it appears to make, you can apply trigonometric formulas to compute the pole’s height. In the same manner, the height of buildings and mountains can also be calculated using trigonometric formulas. 

Trigonometry in Astronomy

Are you interested in astronomy? If yes, Trigonometry is definitely for you! Trigonometry is used to calculate the distance between heavenly bodies such as stars or planets, satellites, planets, etc. Scientists also use trigonometry to construct and launch space shuttles, spaceships, spacecraft, and rockets.

Furthermore, without trigonometry, humans would never have landed on the moon, entered space, or succeeded at other space ventures.

Trigonometry in Music

Trigonometry has its applications in the music sector as well. Wondering how? Well, to relate trigonometry with music, you should first know that sound travels in waves. Similarly, the pattern is irregular, unlike that of sine or cosine functions, which are regular, as shown below. Further, these sound waves can be represented mathematically on a computer. This means, with just basic knowledge of trigonometry, sound engineers can view sound waves and alter volume, pitch, and other factors to provide you with your favorite music. 

Trigonometry in Gaming

Trigonometry has equal importance in the gaming industry too. Have you wondered how Mario is able to jump at your command? Well, you should know that all in-game actions are programmed using trigonometry! 

Trigonometry in Navigation

Trigonometry is also used in navigation, such as maritime, aviation, space and terrestrial navigation. Navigation refers to the determination of the position and direction of a body, especially a moving one. And it is possible by measuring the angle or distance at a particular time, which is done with the help of trigonometry.  

For example we can compute an airplane’s distance to its destination by applying simple trigonometric ratios.  To get a clearer idea, look at this video, which explains the concept really well by using animations to help you understand better.

Trigonometry in Maritime

Likewise, Trigonometry is utilized in maritime as well. It is used to predict the distance and direction of a creature or a plant from a scientist’s position. The angle can be a depression or an elevation, depending on the position of the observer and the target, which is clearly shown in the picture below. You can learn more about these examples in a more detailed and animated form in the video below. 

Trigonometry in Criminology

Surprisingly, trigonometry is also useful in the field of criminology  and can be used to decipher a crime scene. Exciting isn’t it? For instance, it can be used to predict the position of a criminal, the angle from which a gun was shot, etc., and get a clearer picture of the details of a crime scene.  In investigative shows, you can observe the various direct & indirect uses of trigonometry to solve cases.

Hopefully, you are now more aware of the real-life applications of trigonometry. If you want to gain more knowledge regarding these examples or learn trigonometry in more detail, then your very own mySecondTeacher is always there for you.

Have a great time ahead!