A humorous short story from the author of Mathematically Bent which tells the true story of the discovery of the Pythagorean Theorem. Well, actually, perhaps it isn't exactly true...but it is so good, I wish it were!
In this story, we see Pythagoras moping in a bar after a theorem he presented to the Assembly is discovered to be false. (He had claimed that the radius, circumference and area of a circle would satisfy x^{2}+y^{2}=z^{2}...but they do not.) With his slave's help, however, he discovers a valid theorem incorporating the same formula. (Yes, that's right...it has something to do with triangles.) Now if only Pythagoras would listen to the slave's concern about the square root of two,...
This two page masterpiece originally appeared in the April 2007 issue of Math Horizons. This special "April Fool's" issue has many other items that may be of interest to visitors to this site, even though I am not listing them separately as "mathematical fiction". For instance, a mathematical parody of the National Enquirer is quite funny, and there are somewhat dubious letters between Newton and Leibniz that were "recently discovered". (And my favorite, the quadratic formula as it would be presented by the IRS!)
Pythagoras's Darkest Hour was reprinted in the 2009 collection of stories by Adams: Riot at the Calc Exam....
