Happy Pi Day

The circumference of a circle, regardless of size is 3.14 times longer than the diameter (distance across). Circumference divided by diameter is a mathematical constant known as Pi. By definition Pi is a mathematical constant because it isn’t changed by the size of numbers it’s used to equate. Pi is irrational, meaning it has an infinite number of digits which never repeat. In 2018 physicist Peter Trueb calculated Pi to 22.4 trillion digits – 22,459,157,718,361 to be precise. Limitless as Pi may be, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory requires a mere 15 Pi digits to calculate interplanetary travel, mathematician James Grime argues 39 digits is enough to calculate circumference of the known universe. In 1988 physicist Larry Shaw organized the first Pi Day at San Francisco’s Exploratorium science museum on 3.14. In 2009 U.S. Congress officially recognized the fourteenth day of the third month as Pi Day.

Antiquity was no stranger to Pi, ancient Egypt and Babylon calculated approximations of Pi between 1900-1600 BC. In 250 BC Greek mathematician Archimedes is credited with the first algorithm calculating Pi as 3.14. Chinese mathematician Zu Chongzhi (429-501) calculated Pi to 6 decimal places.

March 14 ignites ponders of my Pi soft spot. Gavrinis, a Neolithic site inhabited between 5000-3500 BC on a tiny island off the Brittany coast of France. In the 1930’s French archeologists discovered a burial chamber on Gavrinis containing stone slabs with intricate carvings resembling fingerprints. Mathematicians saw it as indecipherable code, modern computer analysis blew our minds – Gavrinis code indicates the exact number of days in a year, reference to solstice and equinoxes, precise longitude/ latitude of the island, and the “mathematical constant Pi.

Happy Pi Day.



13 thoughts on “Happy Pi Day

  1. Happy pi-day to you too 🙂

    The main reason to celebrate this is to put maths back on the map of vast numbers of failed maths students whose interest was amputated by uninspired math teachers, who were under instruction to do so by ancient heads of departments wanting to share the pain they went through themselves. Or perhaps there was no money to make this interesting and relevant. Go figure.

    Check out my tong-in-cheek post on why 3.141 is an arbitrary number – even if pi is very important. https://geneticfractals.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/pi-day-pi-is-a-anthropocentric-lie/

  2. Oh no, I missed pi day…!
    Irrational numbers are often misunderstood (as are imaginary numbers. Irrational numbers are simply the opposite from rational numbers. And rational numbers are numbers that are a ratio. Like 22/7. So if a number can’t be expressed as a ratio of two whole numbers (no decimal point), then it is irrational. Sadly, from psych perspective, they are not irrational. Having said that, ou is one of the weirdest numbers on earth and so calling then irrational is almost an understatement. Apologies for the mathematical diversion. But then, it was pu day.

  3. I understood early on why pi would have to do with circles, I never saw a pie that wasn’t circular. I just thought pi was short for pie, and I like pie.

  4. Precise latitude and longitude of the island? The mind boggles … or is someone pulling my whiskers (if I had any to pull)?

    You’re not in the Club, are you? (Not that club—I mean the club of people who think that the world (civilisation) was retrograded by asteroids a few years back).

    • Phiff! I loathe that club! This pondering mind belongs to no club, I pave my own path along a trail I call civilization lost to your guess is as good as mine, but one thing I know for certain is facts don’t lie and aliens have nothing to do with it.

      • I never said anything about aliens. Pfffff~! on aliens and all who sail in them.

        It took me a long time but now I am very much in that club of people who believe that humans achieved a higher level of civilisation in the past which was reset by an asteroid or two. If an asteroid can pop off a few gillion dinosaurs and things and reset the world waaaay back, there’s no reason why similar couldn’t do so again.

        By a higher level of civilisation I mean one that could achieve latitude and longitude, but not one that had lasers flying sorcerers and stuff. And sadly, the cranks have made words like ‘Atlantis’ become labels for loony nutters.

        To hell with their silly aliens, I say—sheesh, do you never read me?

  5. ” In 2018 physicist Peter Trueb calculated Pi to 22.4 trillion digits – 22,459,157,718,361 to be precise.”

    So …. wot was that number/value?

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