# 1. Tangents and Normals

by M. Bourne

We often need to find tangents and normals to curves when we are analysing forces acting on a moving body.

A **tangent** to a curve is a line that
touches the curve at one point and has the same **slope** as
the curve at that point.

A **normal** to a curve is a line
perpendicular to a tangent to the curve.

**Note 1:** As we
discussed before (in Slope of a Tangent to a Curve), we can find the slope of a tangent at any point (*x*, *y*) using `dy/dx`.

**Note 2: **To find the equation of a normal, recall the
condition for two lines with slopes *m*_{1}and* **m*_{2} to be perpendicular (see Perpendicular Lines):

m_{1}×m_{2}= −1

### Applications

A car has skidded while rounding a corner, **tangent** to the double yellow lines curve.

**Tangent: **

- If we are traveling in a car around a corner and we hit something slippery on the road (like oil, ice, water or loose gravel) and our car starts to skid, it will continue in a direction
**tangent**to the curve. - Likewise, if we hold a ball and swing it around in a circular motion then let go, it will fly off in a
**tangent**to the circle of motion.

**Normal: **

The spokes of a bicycle wheel are **normal** to the rim.

- When you are going fast around a circular track in a car, the force that you feel pushing you outwards is
**normal**to the curve of the road. Interestingly, the force that is making you go around that corner is actually directed towards the**center**of the circle, normal to the circle. - The spokes of a wheel are placed
**normal**to the circular shape of the wheel at each point where the spoke connects with the center.

### Examples

### Need Graph Paper?

**1. **Find the **gradient** of

(i) the tangent (ii) the normal

to the curve *y*
= *x*^{3}
− 2*x*^{2} + 5 at the point `(2,5)`.

**2. **Find the **equation** of the normal in the above
example.

**3. ****Sketch** the curve and
the normal in the above example.

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