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Four Tales of Impossibility

David Richeson
6:30 p.m. - October 26, 2017

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Space is limited. Please click here to RSVP for this lecture.

Abstract: "Nothing is impossible!" It is comforting to believe this greeting card sentiment; it is the American dream. Yet there are impossible things, and it is possible to prove that they are so. In this talk we will look at some of the most famous impossibility theorems—the so-called "problems of antiquity." The ancient Greek geometers and future generations of mathematicians tried and failed to square circles, trisect angles, double cubes, and construct regular polygons using only a compass and straightedge. It took two thousand years to prove conclusively that all four of these are mathematically impossible.

Biography: Dave Richeson is Professor of Mathematics at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the editor of Math Horizons, a magazine published by the Mathematical Association of America. Dave received the MAA's Euler Book Prize for his book, Euler’s Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology.