Oh, Snap! (kutsuwamushi) wrote in little_details,
Oh, Snap!

ANON POST: Math and other Intellectual Things during the early Dark Ages

Setting: I'm going to be writing a fic set during the early Dark Ages, er, sorta. (It's Merlin fandom. It's technically Dark Ages but is one giant anachronism stew, so I can get away with quite a lot). The plot is somewhat Good Will Hunting - basically some Super Smart Guy comes to Camelot and to show off how epic he is at mathematics and possibly other things, he posts a challenge...except someone solves it, anonymously. And he keeps posting similar challenges, until finally a.) he posts something that even he didn't know the answer to until b.) the person solves it, but c.) gets caught. The last one I'm thinking will be a mathematical proof or theorem of some kind which was unsolved until that point.

Searched: I've searched the history math, a timeline of math, proofs, theorems, ect. - I've been finding a lot of stuff on when things were discovered or solved, but I'm not sure how helpful that stuff is. Especially since my knowledge of math in real life only goes as far as *extremely* basic algebra, at best. So, my questions:

1.) What kind of mathematical quandries would fit the bill of "it's just sitting there" and possibly "really useful", but also "unsolved" at least in the Dark/Middle/vaguely-medieval-enough-for-a-"Renaissance Faire" ages? If nothing, what sort of math equation would be considered the most difficult to solve of that time?

2.) Even if there is something that "needs to be solved", what types of mathematical proofs, equations, ect. would be considered difficult, and thus a sign of extremely high intelligence or saucery to solve? If someone wanted to show off their brains, basically, what kind of math would they be putting on the table?

3.) Any other scientific, or even pseudo-scientific, challenges that someone could put on parchment and post on a wall you can think of, i.e. I'm thinking chess strategies? Anything which, again, would be good for showing off how smart you are to those around you?

Thank you!
Tags: ~mathematics, ~middle ages

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