Many people think math is really boring. This is because, for the most part, teachers are lame and don’t make the material interesting. There is a lot of cool and weird mathematics out there that kids unfortunately are not exposed to. Here are a couple of interesting mathematical oddities that will hopefully spark some interest in math:

You want to find the sum of the infinite series 1-1+1-1+1-1+1-… This pattern repeats forever. At first glance, you would likely say (1-1)+(1-1)+(1-1)+… = 0+0+0+0+… and conclude the sum is 0. At second glance you may say the 1+(-1+1) +(-1+1) +(-1+1) +(-1+1) = 1+0+0+0+0+… = 1. Turns out both of these are wrong and the sum turns out to be ½. Here is why:

Let’s call the sum of the series S, whatever it may be. So, S = 1-1+1-1+1-1+1-…

Now, look at 1-S. We get 1-S = 1- [1-1+1-1+1-1+1-…] = 1-1+1-1+1-1+1-… = S. This is the same as our original series. We just showed that 1-S = S which means that 1=2S or that S=1/2. Pretty crazy that you can add 1 and -1 infinitely many times to get ½.

Here is another cool little proof why 1=2:

Let a =b. Then a2 = ab.

So, a2+ a2 = a2+ab or 2a2 = a2+ab.

Now, Subtract 2ab from both sides of the equation. Doing so, we get:

2a2 -2ab= a2+ab-2ab

So, 2a2 -2ab= a2-ab

Now, we factor out a 2 from the left side of the equation which leave us with:

2(a2+ab) = a2+ab

Divide both sides by a2+ab leaves us with:

2=1.

Take a close look though. While everything seems to be right, we all know 2 does not equal 1. Can you find the erroneous step? If not, come to the Study Hut and we can show you what’s up.

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