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How 2 teenage girls solved a 2,000-year-old math problem

Here's how high school students solved a math problem that was once thought to be impossible.

Calcea Johnson and NeKiya Jackson [inspiremore]

Two high school students, Calcea Johnson and Ne'Kiya Jackson, from St. Mary's Academy in New Orleans, have achieved a mathematical feat.

They've developed a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem using trigonometry, a method previously thought impossible.

Their work was presented at the American Mathematical Society's southeastern regional meeting in Georgia. The Pythagorean Theorem, a holy grail in geometry, states that in a right triangle, the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

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Their accomplishment challenges the notion proposed by mathematician Elisha Loomis in his 1927 book, who believed a trigonometric proof of the Pythagorean Theorem wasn't possible.

"It's an incredible feeling," Johnson shared with WWL-TV, "because it's not every day you get to do something that people don't think young people are capable of."

They presented at the American Mathematical Society meeting that the law of sines, a trigonometric identity, doesn't rely on the Pythagorean theorem and can be used to prove it.

Johnson and Jackson's work joins a small group of other trigonometric proofs discovered over the years. The key to their success is avoiding "circular reasoning," essentially relying on the theorem to prove it.

They acknowledged the exceptional guidance they received from their teachers at St. Mary's Academy. "We have the best teachers," Jackson said in a recent interview.

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Their accomplishments are a testament to the power of hard work, dedication, and the unwavering support of inspiring educators.

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