Any square number may be expressed as the sum of
two squares in an infinite number of different ways.
The solution of the present puzzle forms a simple demonstration of this
It is a condition that we give actual dimensions.
In this puzzle I ignore the known dimensions of
our square and work on the assumption that it is 13n by 13n.
of n we can afterwards determine.
Divide the square as shown (where the
dotted lines indicate the original markings) into 169 squares.
is the sum of the two squares 144 and 25, we will proceed to divide the
veneer into two squares, measuring respectively 12x12 and 5x5; and as
we know that two squares may be formed from one square by dissection in
four pieces, we seek a solution in this number.
The dark lines in the
diagram show where the cuts are to be made.
The square 5x5 is cut out
whole, and the larger square is formed from the remaining three pieces,
B, C, and D, which the reader can easily fit together.
Now, n is clearly 5/13
of an inch. Consequently our larger square must be 60/13
in. × 60/13
in., and our smaller square 25/13
in. × 25/13
The square of 60/13
added to the square of 25/13
The square is thus divided into as few as four pieces that form
two squares of known dimensions, and all the sixteen nails are avoided.