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Date: 1952-1964

Inventory Number: 1997-1-1630b

Classification: Demonstration Model

Subject:

Maker: Walter Balcke ?

Cultural Region:

Place of Origin:

City of Use:

Dimensions:

0.1 x 9.2 x 7.2 cm (1/16 x 3 5/8 x 2 13/16 in.)

Material:

Description:

The model consists of a rectangular sheet of forest green plexiglass. Three square are cut out of the plexiglass such that one corner of each square is touching a corner of each other square. A green right-angle triangle is left in the center of the three cut out triangles such that each edge of the triangle is one edge of a cut-out triangle. The squares are of three different sizes.

In Collection(s)

Signedunsigned

FunctionWalter Balcke built and gifted many mathematical models to the Mathematics department at Harvard University. According to substantial correspondence between mathematics professors and Balcke, the models were sometimes used in classes, circulated around the department for observation, and eventually put on display in the mathematics library.

This particular model demonstrates the Pythagorean theorem which states that "In any right triangle, the area of the square whose side is the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares whose sides are the two legs (the two sides that meet at a right angle)" (from the Wikipedia page). Mathematically, the theorem is stated a²+b²=c² where a and b are two edges of a right-angle triangle and c is the hypotenuse. The three squares cut out of the plexiglass are the squares whose edge is each edge of a right-angle triangle. As such this model visually demonstrates the theorem.

This particular model demonstrates the Pythagorean theorem which states that "In any right triangle, the area of the square whose side is the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares whose sides are the two legs (the two sides that meet at a right angle)" (from the Wikipedia page). Mathematically, the theorem is stated a²+b²=c² where a and b are two edges of a right-angle triangle and c is the hypotenuse. The three squares cut out of the plexiglass are the squares whose edge is each edge of a right-angle triangle. As such this model visually demonstrates the theorem.

Curatorial RemarksIt is not verified that this object was constructed by Walter Balcke for the Mathematics Department at Harvard University. However, it is constructed in the same style and same materials as other confirmed Balcke models and is very likely one of them.

ProvenanceFrom the Department of Mathematics, Harvard University.

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