Pie are not Square

Ang Lee’s Pi Day was February 24 when he won the Best Director Oscar for Life of Pi at the Academy Awards.

Pi to 74 digits. Photo by: mag3737

Pi to 74 digits. Photo by: mag3737

For mathematicians Pi Day is March 14, as 3 – 1 – 4 are the first three digits of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and represent a good approximation of its value.

Pi has been a source of fascination throughout the ages. It is an irrational number in that it continues ad infinitum without repeating. It’s been proven useful when solving geometry problems, such as the area of a circle or the volume of a cylinder.

The concept of pi was mentioned in the Bible.

In the third century BC Archimedes scientifically calculated pi to about 3.14.

A value equivalent to 3.1416 dates from before AD 200.

In the sixteenth century the German mathematician Ludolph Van Ceulen spent his entire life calculating pi to 35 places.

In 1706 William Jones, a friend of Sir Isaac Newton, first designated the Greek letter “π” to represent the ratio, as part of his work in differential calculus

Until computers less than a thousand digits in pi had been calculated.  Two years ago a researcher claimed he had produced 2.7 trillion digits.

It’s not too late to either see Life of Pi or celebrate Pi Day.  Bake a pie or visit Princeton, New Jersey, which celebrates Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday, also March 14, with various activities.

For example, there’s a contest to see who can recite the most digits in pi.  A recent two-time champion reeled off over two thousand numbers – in order!

There’s also an Albert Einstein look-alike contest.  But unless you have wild and wooly hair and a thick, overgrown moustache, fuggedaboutit.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


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