High School Students Make Mathematical Discovery Unproven For 2,000 Years

March 29, 2023

Two high school students in New Orleans are causing quite a stir among mathematicians after discovering a new way to look at a 2,000 year old formula.

students solve math problems 2000 years
Calcea Johnson and Ne'Kiya Jackson / Credit: WWLTV

Last week, Calcea Johnson and Ne'Kiya Jackson gave a presentation to the American Mathematical Society's Annual Southeastern Conference in Atlanta.

The St. Mary’s Academy seniors claimed Pythagoras' Theorem (a squared + b squared = c squared) can be proven with trigonometry -- something that many thought was impossible.

Since the Pythagorean theorem is the basis of trigonometry, it is said there are no trigonometric proofs because that is circular logic and an idea cannot prove itself.

But Johnson and Jackson were able to prove the theorem with trigonometry.

"I saw like a bunch of people like this, and like, writing down stuff and pulling up things on their computers like, oh, like the connections and I was like, wow, they really connected with this," Johnson said.

"Afterwards, we got a lot of congratulations," Jackson said. "Some people apparently started recording."

Watch the news video below.

The theorem is named for the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, born around 570 BC.

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