Two High School Seniors Solve A Mathematical Puzzle That Was Thought To Be Impossible For 2,000 Years

by Gee NY
St. Mary’s Academy seniors Ne’Kiya Jackson and Calcea Johnson are seen at the school in New Orleans on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Photo by Brett Duke, | The Times-Picayune) STAFF PHOTO BY BRETT DUKE

In a remarkable feat, two high school students from Louisiana shattered the notion of an unsolvable math equation.

Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson, seniors at St. Mary’s Academy in New Orleans, tackled a seemingly impossible bonus question during a math contest in their class and emerged victorious.

Their groundbreaking approach to the problem caught the attention of CBS’s ’60 Minutes,’ where they will soon share their journey.

Johnson and Jackson’s breakthrough came during a winter break, where they delved into the challenge, which had stumped mathematicians for ages.

The duo realized that the Pythagorean Theorem, a fundamental concept in geometry, could be solved using trigonometry, a method never before employed in its proof over the last two millennia.

Their appearance on ’60 Minutes’ follows their presentation of the hypothesis at the American Mathematical Society last spring, showcasing their relentless dedication.

“For two months we worked together nonstop — during school, after school, at home, at lunch,” Johnson told the Times-Picayune last year. “We had lots of Zoom meetings. Actually, during Mardi Gras break we were still working by Zoom.”

When CBS correspondent Bill Whitaker asked Jackson and Johnson if they were math geniuses in the episode’s trailer, both shook their heads.

“Not at all,” Jackson denied.

Johnson and Jackson’s collaborative effort spanned months of intensive work, including school hours, after-school sessions, and even during holiday breaks.

Reflecting on their achievement, the students modestly brushed aside labels of being math prodigies. Instead, they attributed their success to perseverance, teamwork, and innovative thinking.

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