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Politics Uses Math

Clip 1: Regarding the prospect of negotiating with a Hamas government representing the Palestinians, an Israeli office said: "We are going to have to find a creative way of squaring the circle."

Clip 2: When faced with protecting Eastern European nations without riling Russian leaders, a NATO official said the problem was like "squaring the circle."

In sum, the mathematical term "Squaring the circle" has become a metaphor for an "impossible task." Well anchored as an interesting part of the history of mathematics, the actual task of using only a compass and straight edge to construct a square with the same area as a given circle IS IMPOSSIBLE.

So, as math teachers, on comments sent home to parents, you can write: "Teaching Johnny (or Jill) mathematics is like squaring the circle." At the very least, the parents might contact you to ask what you meant!

Source: Clips from Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 15, 2006