A miner who spends his spare time secretly working on geometry problems arouses the suspicions of his God fearing wife when she comes upon his cryptic writings and follows him to a meeting with a visiting mathematician in this sweet, romantic story. Of course, anyone who knows a bit of the history of geometry will not be surprised when, at the end, the miner receives disappointing news from the mathematician. He believes that he has worked out a construction with compass and straightedge for creating a square with the same area as a given circle. However, since 1882 when Lindemann proved that the number pi is trancendental, it is well known that such a construction is impossible. (See MathWorld for more info.)
This short story is one of three "mathematical" stories by Iagnemma which appear in his collection On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction: Stories". Iagnemma recently received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from MIT where he now works as a research scientist. In addition, his short stories have been published in many prestitigious literary magazines and have won him numerous prizes. |