Why can't you square a circle?

I heard that it can't be done. Is that right? Is there a certain reason or is it way, way too complex to try and explain to a mere mortal such as myself?

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    First, it is important to understand exactly what is being claimed. It is impossible to start with a circle and produce a square of the same area using only straight-edge and compass constructions starting with the circle.

    The reason it is impossible is based on the fact that each time you find the intersection of two lines, you are essentially solving a linear equation; each time you find the intersection of two circles or a line and a circle, you are solving a quadratic equation. So, a ruler and compass construction corresponds to a sequence of solutions of linear and quadratic equations.

    Well, it turns out that the ration pi, that of the circumference to the diameter of a circle cannot be exactly found by this type of construction. The proof of THIS is quite difficult and was solved by Hermite in the late 1800's. But, if you were able to find the square, you would be essentially finding a line of length the square root of pi. If you could do this, finding one of length pi would not be difficult.

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  • 4 years ago

    It would be better to prove that if there were a construction that squared a circle (a square with sides such that s^2 = the area of the circle and that s was the root of a rational polynomial expression) then a logical contradiction would exist. Very long and tedious proof but exists.

    The proof that sqrt(2) is irrational [there exist no integers p and q that (p/q)^2 = 2] is easier and is proven backwards by proving that if there were such a p and q a logical contradiction would exist.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    They "say" it cant be done. I dont know if its been proven or not to be impossible. Its possible we lack the mathematical and conceptual understanding to construct it. I dont know how anything can be proven impossible when we are still learning what is, and newer techniques for solving older problems.

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