It’s Pi Day!! No, it’s not Pie Day, that’s back in January (23rd, to be exact), but Pi, the irrational/transcendental number frequently used to figure the area of a circle (pi times radius squared…I just discovered I need to learn how to do mathematical symbols in Google Drive & Word. Good to know).
Annnnyway. pi, the number, has been around for over 4000 years, though it has not always held the infinite distinction that is now has. The ancient Babylonians were the first to use “pi” to calculate the area of a circle, though to them pi was 3 (which isn’t quite right). The first person to actually calculate pi was Archimedes of Syracuse (287-212 BC). He didn’t quite get it perfect, but was close. The actual use of the Greek letter “pi” (again, the symbol would be useful here…suffice it to say, it looks like a kids drawing of a house) was in the 1700’s. It was first introduced by William Jones in 1706 and popularized by Leonhard Euler beginning in 1737.
Pi is mathematically an irrational and transcendental number meaning, basically, that it will continue infinitely without repetition or a pattern. Most people use 3.14 or 3.14159 do to their calculations, but at this point the number has been calculated to over one TRILLION digits beyond the decimal point. the “A Brief History of Pi” section of the Exploratorium website says: “Pi has been known for almost 4000 years–but even if we calculated the number of seconds in those 4000 years and calculated pi to that number of places, we would still only be approximating its actual value.” Pi, is well and truly infinite, which is a pretty crazy concept if you think about it for a while.
If you’d like to celebrate Pi Day, go out a buy a pie or pizza pie and dig in! Or do some other pie related things. You could also do some kind of 3.14 related games or events. Or you could Hit up a number of bakeries and pizzerias that are offering Pi Day deals. Or you could (somehow) go to the Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA and participate in the Pi Procession. Or take the healthier route and walk or bike 3.14 miles (it’s a pretty day out there…maybe not a horrid idea). Oh! It’s also Einstein’s birthday…so perhaps do something with relativity or do your hair in a more “mad scientist” style.
For good measure…here’s a picture of Pi on pie: