Real Mathematics – Geometry #15

Drawing a square

I am dealing with geometry and I imagine that I am in ancient Greece again. Aegean sea is in front of me and I am sitting on a marble between two huge white columns while holding an unmarked ruler and a compass.

First I draw a circle that has center at A and has radius r:


Then I draw the same circle but taking its center at B this time:


I connect the points A and B with a straight line. Then I draw two perpendiculars from the endpoints of the line AB:


I connect the point E to the point F and end up with the ABEF square which has side lengths r:

Biggest circle that can be drawn into ABEF will have diameter r and touch the square at exactly four points:



In order to find the area of a square one can take the square of one side that gives r2.

To find a circle’s area one should multiply the square of the radius with π. In our inscribed circle we calculate the area as πr2/4.

Ratio of these areas would give π/4.


Now let’s make an experiment. For that all you need is some kind of cardboard cut as a square and a precision scale. Using the scale find the weight of the square-shaped cardboard.


Then draw the biggest possible circle inside this square. Cut that circle out and find its weight with the scale.


Since we are using the same material ratio of the weights should be equal to the ratio of the areas. From here one can easily find an approximation for the number π:

0,76/0,97 = π/4

3,1340… = π

One of the main reasons why we only found an approximation is that the cardboard might not be homogeneous. In other words the cardboard might not have equal amount of material on every point of itself.

Another reason for finding an approximation is that I didn’t cut the square and the circle perfectly.

One wonders…

Draw a circle and then draw the biggest-possible square inside that circle. Find their areas and measure their weights. See if you found an approximation.

M. Serkan Kalaycıoğlu

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