The Future Is Here

# The simplest proof mathematicians needed two tries at

There is a famous mathematical proof called The Jordan Curve Theorem. It's wrong. Camille Jordan came up with it at the end of the 19th century, and it bears his name, despite being inaccurate, because there is no justice in the world. There are plenty of proofs out there that are wrong, but this one is notable for proving something so very, very simple. Find out how hard it is to prove an obvious statement.

One of the frustrating things about academia is the fact that the simplest things are the hardest to define. For example, give me the definition for the word 'and.' And, for, the, and other simple words can take up pages in the dictionary. Likewise, straightforward mathematical concepts are massively difficult to prove or define. The Jordan Curve Theorem was a long, difficult proof that was an attempt to show that any finished curve, circle, oval, or squiggly loop, divides a plane into an inside and an outside. Visually, all you need to do that is a piece of paper, some markers, and your fingers to point — and possibly your face to accurately convey the word 'duh.' Math makes things a little more stringent.