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Monday, July 9, 2018
You may have heard the saying, "you can't square a circle," meaning, "you can't do the impossible."
Squaring a circle used to be an unsolvable mathematical problem. This was one the ancient Greeks came up with and they never found a solution to it.
The problem is to create a square equal in area to a circle. It sounds simple enough, but the trick is you can only use the mathematical tools available to the ancients; that is a straightedge and compass.
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Today's Random Fact:
Squaring a circle was finally proved to be an impossible problem in 1882 when German mathematician Ferdinand von Lindemann proved that pi is a transcendental number. That is; it is not the root of any polynomial with rational coefficients. Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and without it the problem could not be done.
Schoolmaster and amateur mathematician William Shanks (1812–82) spent the greater part of his life working out the value of pi (the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter) to 707 decimal places. More than 60 years after his death, mathematician DF Ferguson, using a mechanical calculator, pointed out that he had got the last 180 of these decimal places wrong.
In 1958 an IBM computer did in 40 seconds what Shanks had done in a lifetime. The millionth digit of pi was found in 1973 and the billionth by 1995.