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Pythagorean Theorem

I first learned the Pythagorean Theorem as a sophomore in Sister Mary Marcelline’s geometry class.  It’s all about right triangles and states that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Algebraically, it is written A2 + B2 = C2.

Little did I know that this theorem would find me again in my builder’s course last week. We were studying rafters and their pitch and used the theorem to determine how long a rafter needed to be in certain situations.  If you think of the rafter as the hypotenuse of a right angle with one-half the run and the amount of slope as the other two sides of the triangle, you understand what I’m talking about.

The funny this is that I understood the formula – Sister Marcelline was a fantastic math teacher – but I didn’t know the building terms.  Run is something children do.  Slope means what you’re walking on is uneven. However, the men in my class were in the opposite position.  They didn’t have a clue about Pythagoras.

He was an ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician who is credited with proving how the theorem that bears his name today works. It was Greek to him back then, and apparently it’s still Greek to some people today.

As for me, I need to learn carpentry terms if I’m going to pass the builder’s test. Go figure.

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