By Matthew Martinelli



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The Legend of Sohcahtoa
by Matthew Martinelli

Many moons ago in the Archimedes Forest lived a young Indian girl named Sohcahtoa. As with all Indians of the Zenzizenzic* clan, Sohcahtoa derived her name from a memorable event in her early childhood. One day her father noticed her sitting on a natural log, dangling her feet in the water and solving problems involving right triangles. He cleverly declared her name shall be "Soak a toe". However, his daughter heard him say Sohcahtoa, and the name stuck.

Sohcahtoa studied for many years and became very proficient in mathematics. She probably would have become a famous mathematician if she hadn't discovered boys---especially Falling Rock.

Sohcahtoa liked Falling Rock and convinced him to study mathematics with her.


After a while he got bored and said, "I like angles to a degree and I feel positive about
whole numbers. I'll even do sum addition. However, I feel the inverse of multiplication causes division, and I'm totally confused when you say, 'pies are squared'. Nevertheless, graphing is where I absolutely draw the line!"

Sohcahtoa tried to teach Falling Rock about the legs of right triangles, but he was more interested in studying her legs. Right before Falling Rock turned 18, he asked Sohcahtoa to marry him. She agreed to be his bride and put her studying aside. But before they could be wed, Falling Rock had to pass "The Trials of Manhood". Every boy in the tribe had to complete this ritual to be deemed ready for the responsibilities of marriage. Tasks were uniquely created for each individual. Falling Rock's task required him to travel to Triangle Mountain and put ink on the tail of the parrot that sits at the peak.

When Falling Rock and his tribe arrived at the base of the mountain, the elders supplied him with a few cooking utensils and a jar of ink for the parrot's tail. He bid them farewell and spent many days in the sun, becoming quite the tan gent on his way to the peak.

That was the last time anyone ever saw him.

After a few weeks, Sohcahtoa decided to go up the mountain to find him. A few thousand feet up, she found her lover's cooking utensils sitting over a fire. The high pot in use (hypotenuse) was a sign (sine) that she was on the right side of Triangle Mountain. She climbed to the top, but she didn't find the parrot. However, she did find a message written on a stone. Her mathematical sense found it ironic that on the stone at the peak of Triangle Mountain were the words "Polly gone."

Sohcahtoa descended the mountain and never gave up hope that she might find her lost lover. Even to this day, it is said she is still looking for him. In fact, you can still see the signs Sohcahtoa left on the sides of the roads in the mountains: "Watch for Falling Rock."



* Zenzizenzic means to the fourth power of a number.


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