# Hjelmslev’s Theorem

I came across this remarkable result in Futility Closet:

“On each of these two black lines is a trio of red points marked by the same distances.  The midpoints of segments drawn between corresponding points are collinear.

(Discovered by Danish mathematician Johannes Hjelmslev.)”

This result seems amazing and mysterious.  I wondered if I could think of a proof.  I found a simple approach that did not use plane geometry.  And suddenly, like a magic trick exposed, the result seemed obvious.

# Point of Intersection Problem

I came across an interesting problem in the MathsJam Shout for February 2022.

(“MathsJam is a monthly opportunity for like-minded self-confessed maths enthusiasts to get together in a pub and share stuff they like.  Puzzles, games, problems, or just anything they think is cool or interesting.  Monthly MathsJam nights happen in over 70 locations around the world, on the second-to-last Tuesday of each month.  To find your nearest MathsJam, visit the website at www.mathsjam.com.”)

“Given two lines Ax + By + C = 0 and ax + by + c = 0, is there a simple link between the vectors (A, B, C), (a, b, c), and the point where the lines cross?”

The answer, of course, is yes, but the question is somewhat open-ended and I was not able to track down any answer given.

# Bottema’s Theorem

This seemingly magical result from Futility Closet defies proof at first.  Go to the Wolfram demo by Jay Warendorff and then …

“Grab point B above and drag it to a new location. Surprisingly, M, the midpoint of RS, doesn’t move.

This works for any triangle — draw squares on two of its sides, note their common vertex, and draw a line that connects the vertices of the respective squares that lie opposite that point. Now changing the location of the common vertex does not change the location of the midpoint of the line.

It was discovered by Dutch mathematician Oene Bottema.”

As we shall see, Bottema’s Theorem has shown up in other guises as well.

# Rotating Plane Problem

Here is another challenging problem from the first issue of the 1874 The Analyst, which also appears in Benjamin Wardhaugh’s book.

“3. If a line make an angle of 40° with a fixed plane, and a plane embracing this line be perpendicular to the fixed plane, how many degrees from its first position must the plane embracing the line revolve in order that it may make an angle of 45° with the fixed plane?

—Communicated by Prof. A. Schuyler, Berea, Ohio.”

Part of the challenge is to construct a diagram of the problem.  I used techniques for a solution that were barely in use when this problem was posed in 1874.  The contrast between then and now is most revealing.

See the Rotating Plane Problem for solutions.

# Diabolical Triangle Puzzle

This simple-appearing problem is from the 17 August 2020 MathsMonday offering by MEI, an independent curriculum development body for mathematics education in the UK.

“The diagram shows an equilateral triangle in a rectangle.  The two shapes share a corner and the other corners of the triangle lie on the edges of the rectangle.  Prove that the area of the green triangle is equal to the sum of the areas of the blue and red triangles.  What is the most elegant proof of this fact?”

Since the MEI twitter page seemed to be aimed at the high school level and the parting challenge seemed to indicate that there was one of those simple, revealing solutions to the problem, I spent several days trying to find one.  I went down a number of rabbit holes and kept arriving at circular reasoning results that assumed what I wanted to prove.  Visio revealed a number of fascinating relationships, but they all assumed the result and did not provide a proof.  I finally found an approach that I thought was at least semi-elegant.

See the Diabolical Triangle Puzzle

(Update 1/30/2021)  New MEI Solution

# Flipping Parabolas

This is a stimulating problem from the UKMT Senior Math Challenge for 2017. The additional problem “for investigation” is particularly challenging. (I have edited the problem slightly for clarity.)

“The parabola with equation y = x² is reflected about the line with equation y = x + 2. Which of the following is the equation of the reflected parabola?

A_x = y² + 4y + 2_____B_x = y² + 4y – 2_____C_x = y² – 4y + 2
D_x = y² – 4y – 2_____E_x = y² + 2

For investigation: Find the coordinates of the point that is obtained when the point with coordinates (x, y) is reflected about the line with equation y = mx + b.”

See Flipping Parabolas for a solution.

# Magic Parallelogram

I came across this problem in Alfred Posamentier’s book, but I remember I had seen it a couple of places before and had never thought to solve it. At first, it seems like magic.

In any convex quadrilateral (line between any two points in the quadrilateral lies entirely inside the quadrilateral) inscribe a second convex quadrilateral with its vertices on the midpoints of the sides of the first quadrilateral. Show that the inscribed quadrilateral must be a parallelogram.

See the Magic Parallelogram.