These High School Students May Have Discovered a New Proof for a 2,000-Year-Old Mathematical Theorem

The American Mathematical Society’s Annual Southeastern Conference 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 – something mathematicians have been attempting to do for nearly two thousand years.

According to reports, the two geniuses were the only high school kids who presented their finding at the conference, which was attended by math researchers from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech.

According to Johnson and her classmate, Ne’Kiya Jackson, the high school seniors at St. Mary’s Academy may be the first to utilize trigonometry to demonstrate the Pythagorean Theorem.

“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.”

Johnson and Jackson’s hypothesis has not yet been subjected to scholarly peer review, according to Dr. Catherine Roberts, executive director of the American Mathematical Society. She was also concerned that their conclusions were overblown.

AT&T’s Dream in Black campaign honored New Orleans High School seniors Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson at the just concluded 2023 Essence Festival.

AT&T’s Dream in Black festival in their homeland of Louisiana rewarded Jackson and Johnson with new devices as a prize for their ability to explore larger 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.”


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