“Odd Rock” on Mars Exhibits (Almost) Magic Square

A news story released yesterday, March 31,by c|net has the headline

  NASA Perseverance Mars rover investigates 'odd' rock

Markings etched into the rock attempt to describe a magic square. The discovery is a reminder of the Chinese legend of the Lo Shu square on the back of a turtle three thousand years ago.

The ancient Chinese Lo Shu is 3-by-3 and is generated in MATLAB by

   LoShu =  magic(3)
LoShu =

     8     1     6
     3     5     7
     4     9     2

All the row sums, column sum and diagonal sums are 15.

However, the number grid on the Martian rock is only 2-by-2. For n = 2, MATLAB produces a similar array.

   Mars = magic(2)
Mars =

     1     3
     4     2

The column sums are both 5, but the row sums and the diagonal sums do not cooperate.

Magic squares of order 2 do not exist, at least under our terrestrial rules of arithmetic.

Is it possible that under some arithmetic system, this array has magic properties? If so, then we certainly have evidence that intelligent life once existed on Mars or wherever this fragment originated.

Published with MATLAB® R2021a

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