In a world where children and teens are becoming entrepreneurs and innovators, it’s unsurprising that they’re also making waves in mathematics. Recently, two teens from New Orleans made an incredible mathematical discovery that could reshape the future of mathematics.
Encouraged to Make the Mathematical Discovery
The atmosphere of St. Mary’s Academy, a private high school in New Orleans, is inclusive and promotes excellence. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that their students made a mathematical discovery, somehow outsmarting 2,000 years of mathematics. The teens recently presented their mathematical discovery at Georgia’s Semi-Annual Southeastern Conference for the American Mathematical Society.
The Only Teens in the Room
What’s more impressive is that these brainy young women were the only high school students in the room. Other attendees included University students from Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana State, Ohio State, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma. Introducing their mathematical discovery of new proof for the Pythagorean Theorem, Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson both credit their school with helping them to make the discovery. “Our slogan is ‘No Excellence Without Hard Labor.’ So, they definitely push us,” Calcea said. Meanwhile Ne’Kiya said, “We have really great teachers.”
Getting Noticed for the Mathematical Discovery
The girls are now being encouraged to submit their research to a prestigious peer-review mathematical journal. The girls claim that they have figured out how to prove Pythagoras’s theorem without using circular Trigonometry, something mathematicians have been working to do for literal centuries. “We present a new proof of Pythagoras’s Theorem which is based on a fundamental result in trigonometry – the Law of Sines – and we show that the proof is independent of the Pythagorean trig identity sin2x+cos2x=1.” In short, they could prove the theorem using trigonometry and without resorting to circular reasoning.” They explain.
Although most of us learned about the Pythagoras Theorem in school, unless you’re a mathematician or other STEM professional, it’s unlikely that you’ve frequently needed it. So, here’s a quick refresher on the philosopher and mathematician who helped shape the future.
Pythagoras, credited with an original mathematical discovery, was a Greek Mathematician and Philosopher, who was born in 500 B.C.E. Although he was a highly religious man, founding the organization of the Pythagorean brotherhood, his ideas influenced many scholarly aspects. Some aspects include music, mathematics, and philosophy. Little is known about his early life, but he’s believed to have been born in Samos and later moved to Egypt then Babylon as a young man. Furthermore, he never wrote any books so it’s difficult for historians to decipher between his teachings and those of his students.
Most of us were taught the theory in high school, with a trick to help us remember, a2+b2=c2. The equation is used in geometry to measure the area of a triangle. “Basically, trigonometry is based on Pythagoras’ Theorem, so using trigonometry to prove Pythagoras’s Theorem is what’s known as circular logic.” the girls explained.
Adding New Evidence
Their presentation of the mathematical discovery also highlights a book with the “largest known collection of proofs for theorem.” The Pythagorean Proposition by Elisha Loomis, “flatly states that ‘there are no trigonometric proofs because all the fundamental formulae of trigonometry are themselves based upon the truth of the Pythagorean theorem’.” the girls explain.
It’s pretty amazing how strong and empowered the youth of America is today. They have some amazing ideas, and the technology to bring those ideas to fruition. The event of the mathematical discovery will likely reshape history. However, even more likely is how proud these girls, their families, and the school must be. “It’s really an unparalleled feeling, honestly, because there’s just nothing like being able to do something that people don’t think young people can do. A lot of times you see this stuff, you don’t see kids like us doing it.” Calcea said.
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- “US teens say they have new proof for 2,000-year-old mathematical theorem.” The Guardian. Ramon Antonio Vargas. March 24, 2023.
- “New Orleans East Teens make ‘impossible’ mathematical discovery unproven for 2,000 years.” WWLTV. Sam Winstrom. March 22, 2023.