These high school seniors may have found a new proof for a 2,000-year-old math theorem

Dollita Okine July 13, 2023
The two geniuses were reportedly the only high school students who presented their discovery at the conference. Photo Credit: ABC News

The Annual Southeastern Conference of the American Mathematical Society featured a presentation by teenagers, Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson; who succeeded in proving the Pythagorean Theorem using trigonometry without the use of circular logic – which mathematicians have been attempting to do for almost two thousand years.

The two geniuses were reportedly the only high school students who presented their discovery at the conference, which was attended by math researchers from universities such as Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech.

The high school seniors of St. Mary’s Academy may be the first to use trigonometry to demonstrate the Pythagorean Theorem, according to Johnson and her classmate, Ne’Kiya Jackson.

“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,” Calcea said in an interview with WWL-TV. “A lot of times you see this stuff, you don’t see kids like us doing it.”

The theorem was reportedly known to scholars in ancient Babylon and Egypt, and was even written on a 4000-year-old Babylonian tablet. Nearly two thousand years later, Pythagoras, an early Greek philosopher, made it known to the Western world.

When questioned about the motivation behind their search for proof of the theorem, Jackson replied, “Well, it all started with a math contest that was taught at our school. And there was a bonus question.”

She explained that the bonus question required finding a fresh example of Pythagoras.

“It has been done in the past by other people, but the proofs have not really been trigonometric,” Johnson said to ABC News. “They’ve been like algebraic or like calculous based, but this is really using like the trigonometric rules.”

According to Dr. Catherine Roberts, the executive director of the American Mathematical Society, Johnson and Jackson’s theory has not yet undergone academic peer review to establish its viability. She also expressed concern that their findings might be exaggerated.

At the recently ended 2023 Essence Festival, the Dream in Black initiative of AT&T honored seniors Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson from New Orleans High School.

Jackson and Johnson were given new electronics by AT&T’s Dream in Black at the festival held in their hometown of Louisiana as rewards for their capacity to discover greater possibilities.

Johnson told PEOPLE, “This is just all very shocking to me. I didn’t expect our work to go anywhere. Then all these people started picking it up and wanted to interview me and wanted me to go here and there. I’m just like; I didn’t expect any of it.”

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: July 13, 2023


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