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Why Math Isn’t an Awful Nerd, Part 2

Learn how to solve our positively odd brain teaser puzzle about adding up positive odd integers as we prove once and for all that math is most definitely not an awful nerd.

By
Jason Marshall, PhD
Episode #102

Why Math Is NOT an Awful Nerd

So what’s really going on here? Well, placing a new strand down on the table is just like adding the next positive odd integer. And each time you do it, you find that the sum of increasing numbers of positive odd integers must be a number that’s a perfect square—because the blocks actually form a shape that is a literal perfect square! Which means that the imaginary drawing you’ve made shows that adding up a sequence of positive odd integers to get perfect squares is, somewhat surprisingly, not a mystery at all. It’s simply a result of how shapes fit together.

Do you now see why I called this a simple, elegant, and beautiful solution? In truth some of you may and some of you may not. And that’s perfectly okay! After all, each of us have different preferences about food, cars, clothes, movies, music, and yes even math. For some, seeing a solution to a puzzle like the one we’ve looked at is genuinely exciting. Others are left wondering about the sanity of those who are now excited. But just because you’re in the skeptical camp right now doesn’t mean you won’t learn to love math…at least a bit. I know since—once upon a time—I was one of you. That’s right, I haven’t always loved math. But once I discovered that math is also the worlds oldest, most fun, and undeniably amazing collection of puzzles (not problems remember!), I was hooked. And that my friends, to me at least, is why math is most definitely NOT an awful nerd.

Wrap Up

Okay, that’s all the math we have time for today. Remember to become a fan of the Math Dude on Facebook where you’ll find a new featured number or math puzzle posted every weekday. And if you’re on Twitter, please follow me there too. Finally, if you have math questions, feel free to send them my way via Facebook, Twitter, or by email at mathdude@quickanddirtytips.com.

Until next time, this is Jason Marshall with The Math Dude’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Make Math Easier. Thanks for reading, math fans!>

Image Courtney of Shuttershock

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About the Author

Jason Marshall, PhD
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