What I know about π would fit in a thimble, a really, really small thimble. So why am I celebrating Pi Day you ask? Sure you did, you’re reading this aren’t you? That shows a degree of interest. It might be merely a smidgeon. Or what about a tad? How much is a tad? Or a dab? A little dab’ll do ya they say. And who are THEY anyway?
Sorry, I got way off track there. But if you’re a regular reader that didn’t come as a surprise did it?
So what was I saying? Oh right. I know almost nothing about π but I’m still making a big deal of Pi Day. Mostly because I wanted to be sure to post something after having that countdown graphic posted for months and months. You know, the one over there ⇒in the sidebar.
I sort of remember them talking about pi in high school algebra (or was it geometry?) but math was never my thing. I was always more interested in words, writing or reading. Even during summer vacations I mostly had my nose in a book. Since high school I have never found a use for pi in my day to day life but as my tastes in reading and film evolved and I was exposed to science fiction I started hearing about pi more frequently. That’s not to say I know about pi, just that I’m familiar with the term. I have no idea why it’s important or what value it has (beyond 3.14159…) but I wanted this post to be more than me rambling about what I don’t know so … Wikipedia to the rescue! I know, I know. Wikipedia as an authority can be suspect. But in this case I’ll take my chances. This blog is entertainment after all, not for educational purposes. You do know that right? Don’t believe anything you read here. Seriously – not. a. thing.
Pi, according to Wikipedia is “a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.” It goes on and on about pi for 29 pages (when you print it out that’s how many you get) and I didn’t understand anything much after the first paragraph. Go figure. I happen to think pi is more female than male though. They say it’s irrational and many women are all about irrational aren’t they? Face it ladies, we can be irrational at times. But look at what we have to deal with on a daily basis. No, don’t; we’re getting off topic again dammit.
Archimedes was the first to record an algorithm for “rigorously calculating” the value of π. I haven’t a clue why someone would want to rigorously calculate anything, let alone pi. In any case, his method was known as the polygonal algorithm and remained dominant for over 1,000 years. If I understand correctly, mathematicians competed with each other to determine who could calculate pi to the highest number of digits. And they say women are irrational. Over time various ways to calculate pi were developed and in the mid-20th century the appearance of computers “again revolutionized the hunt for digits of π.” Wikipedia says that 1 million digits of pi were reached in 1973. All I can say is why? No seriously, why?
Well apparently it does have practical applications like “testing supercomputers, testing numerical analysis algorithms” etc. Meh.
Pi has also become a sort of icon in popular culture. The practice of piphilology is the memorization of as many digits of pi as possible. As of this writing, according to Guinness World Records in 2005, the record for memorizing digits of pi goes to Lu Chao of China. Over 24 hours and 4 minutes he recited correctly 67,890 digits.
March 14th is celebrated in a variety of ways all over the world. Go visit some of these sites to check it out if you’re inclined to join the festivities tomorrow.
Math Goodies – countdown with DIY activities and educational information
How America Celebrates Pi Day – CNN’s report on Pi Day 2014
Education World – for teachers mainly; plan a Pi Day party, ideas for activities by grade level
How to Celebrate Pi Day – Forbes Magazine article on Pi Day, including a brief history about how Pi Day got started
A search of YouTube for Pi Day celebrations resulted in everything from what appeared to be a 40-ish minute lecture to three guys taking pies in the face in slow motion. Here are two of my favorites from the YouTube search results.
Finally, Time posted this article a couple of years ago about some of the nuttiest celebrations out there, including a video you have to see to believe.
On this, the eve of Pi Day say YES to pi, and to PIE!