866: Compass and Straightedge

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Compass and Straightedge
The Greeks long suspected this, but it wasn't until April 12th of 1882 that Ferdinand von Lindemann conclusively proved it when he constructed himself the most awesome birthday party possible and nobody showed up.
Title text: The Greeks long suspected this, but it wasn't until April 12th of 1882 that Ferdinand von Lindemann conclusively proved it when he constructed himself the most awesome birthday party possible and nobody showed up.

Explanation

The comic is an observation that no amount of technical knowledge can substitute for human companionship. This comic is funny because Cueball is a stick figure so technically it is possible to create friends with a straightedge and a compass. Just one circle with the compass and 5 lines with the straightedge.

Ferdinand von Lindemann was a real German mathematician. In 1882, he proved that pi is not a zero of any polynomial with rational coefficients or a transcendental number.

Transcript

I learned in high school what geometers discovered long ago:
[Cueball, holding a compass and straightedge, looks sad.]
Using only a compass and straightedge, its impossible to construct friends.
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Discussion

No, the comic is funny because many geometrical theorems prove something along the lines of "With a compass and straightedge you cannot construct..." (e.g. a square and a circle with the same area) If you have knowledge of this type of proof, the humor is that you think he's about to talk about something that is impossible in geometry, but really he's talking about the inapplicability of geometry to real life. This is often a difficulty with nerds and brainy people, they try to apply their theoretical knowledge to human relationships and fail. 75.103.23.206 19:53, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

And then there's the converse: people who are able to apply theoretical knowledge and succeed. 76.106.251.87 04:33, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

The explanation mentions that there are "three such constructions", but doesn't go any further. What they are should at least be addressed (or linked to), even if we're not going to elaborate on the "why" of their impossibility. For the uninitiated, they are squaring the circle, trisecting any angle, and doubling the cube. 76.106.251.87 04:33, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

If such constructions are "impossible with the use of modern algebraic techniques," then why don't we just use older algebraic techniques?  ;) 213.203.138.251 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Those "modern algebraic techniques" just did prove that you can't solve this constructions by using only "classical geometry".--Dgbrt (talk) 18:14, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
I tried forming a club for compasses and straight edges but no one signed up :( ~JFreund
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