Posted in Science & Nature

A Simple Task

A plague struck the ancient Greek island of Delos. As the disease ravaged the island, the people went to the oracle at Apollo’s temple for help. This is what the oracle said:

Double the volume of the cube-shaped altar in Apollo’s temple

People considered this a simple task and made a new altar where each side was double the original length. However, instead of disappearing, the plague worsened and people were confused.

Reason being, given that the length of one side of a cube is a, the volume is a³; if one side is 2a, the volume becomes 8a³, or eight times the original volume. Therefore, to double the volume of a cube, the number ³√2 is required. The problem is, whether ³√2 can be found using only compass and straightedge construction (where only the two tools are used to solve a geometric problem).

This problem, also known as the Doubling the cube problem, is one of three geometric problems known to be unsolvable by compass and straightedge construction. In other words, without the help of other mathematical methods, the answer cannot be found.
However, the solution to the above story is very simple.

Find a new god.

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