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Okay, so just about everyone who was conscious during junior high math class has heard of the Pythagorean Theorem. You know, the hypotenuse squared of a right triangle is equal to the sums of the other two legs squared.

My question is a simple one: how do we really know that Pythagoras himself discovered this property of triangles? Could there be some other reason why the theorem has the name it does? Did it just eeem like a good idea at the time, kind of like how some people actually name their children after soft drinks?

My theory is that Pythagoras was actually a criminal of the worst kind, whatever that may have been in ancient Greece. After capturing him and giving him his normal punishment, the Greeks decided to hurt him even worse. Some lowly mathematician somewhere had just discovered a new property of triangles. Recognizing the potential impact on mathematics and the fact that it would surely be required reading, the Greeks decided to name the theorem after Pythagoras so that for millennia to come, schoolchildren would curse his name.
Oh... but I am afraid that the conspiracy is much more dire then that.

In ancient Greece, people like Pythagoras wouldn't be put into a crude prison, but a crude mental asylum. You see, Pythagoras would stay up, racking his brain at night figuring out how to screw mathematics over forever. Greek mathematicians, well aware that keeping things simple for future generation, didn't even want to think about numbers that couldn't be expressed by other numbers. But not only did Pythagoras hate the sensible mathematicians of that Era, he hated them to the point of worship. After inventing his Pythagorean Theorem, he founded a cult based on the worship of messy mathematics. All of his members were to place a pentagram on their hands, which represents the natural constant E, rival in messiness only to PI. Anyway, his stupid formula forces children not only to learn some of the boringest mathematics ever invented, but also planar geometry, multi-dimensional geometry, continuous compound interest, and all sorts of mathematics some potential office guy needn't really concern himself with.

I swear this is true. They forced my 7th grade math class to watch this horrible algebra propaganda video by Disney starring Donald Duck (that would be "Donald Duck Goes To Mathemagic Land", thanks bob the cow). I'm pretty sure that teacher must have had a star tattooed on his hand...

Yeah, I saw the Donald Duck thing, too. I think I saw it as a double, with that story about the goofy lady that loses her bracelet in the donut dough...

Anyway, yeah, Pythagoras was religious, sort of. He had all sorts of crazy, radical ideas like;

All his contemporaries (like Heraclitus, Xeno, or Anaxamender) were arguing whether the prime substance of Reality was fire, air, water, earth, or aether. Since quantum mechanics can only be understood with math, I'd say he was pretty sharp, despite (or maybe because of) his spiritualism.

The reason his cult used the pentagram, is because whichever segments you compare, the ratio of their lengths are some power of the golden ratio:
1.618n , where n is 1, 2, or 3.

(I know, because after I saw the Disney video, which mentions the fact, I proved it to myself - the pentagram, and the fingers.)

They put it on their hands, since the same ratio is expressed in the segments of your fingers

For those that missed the video, the golden ratio can be calculated by taking the Fibonacci series (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,24,31..) out several values, then taking the ratio of any pair...it approaches 1.618 = 1/.618 That's why it's golden - if you take away a square, you still get the same ratio.

What's weird is that the spirals found in nature often adhere to not only the ratio, but the series, even in the low numbers. Pinecones have little nubs on them, and if you look down on it, there's 5 rows making one spiral, or 8 rows going the other way. Sunflowers have 24 and 31...

Pythagoras is also credited with recognizing why certain sounds work well together - the whole number fractions between the 'tuned' notes. He considered string length. We now 'know' that it's the frequency - because the prime substance of the Universe is number. Oh, wait.

I guess you'd only care about that kind of thing if you haven't been traumatized by algebra propaganda.

Well, rumor has it that the Egyptians, or possibly even the Thais, invented the actual theorem first, so blame them.

Pythagoras was probably just the first guy to hear of it in the local region, recognize it's value, and write it down, as part of the proof for his 'pet' theory.

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