Let $q$ be a prime power and $k>1$ a positive integer. For what values of $k$ and $q$ is the number $(q^k-1)/(q-1)$ a perfect square, that is the square of another integer? Is the number of such perfect squares finite?

Note that $(q^k-1)/(q-1)$ is the number of points in a finite projective space of dimension $k-1$. The above question is related to the following one: How many non-isomorphic finite projective spaces are there whose numbers of points are perfect squares.

Preliminary calculation shows that $(q^k-1)/(q-1)$ is a perfect square when $(k,q)$ takes on one of the values $(2,3)$, $(5,3)$, $(4,7)$, $(2,8)$, in which cases it is equal to $2^2$, $11^2$, $20^2$, $3^2$, respectively. When $k=2$, $(q^k-1)/(q-1)$ is a perfect square if and only if $q=3$ or 8. When $k=3$, $(q^k-1)/(q-1)$ cannot be a perfect square. When $q=2$, $(q^k-1)/(q-1)$ cannot be a perfect square.

space, not plane, I would say. $\endgroup$ – Allen Knutson Aug 6 '14 at 18:04