Today is Pi Day, celebration of a “mathematical constant” that frankly eludes this mathless mind. I know why it’s Pi Day – the circumference of any circle, regardless of size is 3.14 times longer than the diameter or distance across. Fourteenth day of the third month represent the first three digits of Pi. Another way to consider Pi – the circumference of a circle divided by the diameter, a calculation commonly expressed as 3.142. Pi is tricky, no matter how many digits you calculate it to, the number never ends. Computer programs have calculated Pi to over 200 million digits and counting.
Antiquity was no stranger to Pi. Ancient Egypt and Babylon have written testament to Pi dating between 1900-1600 BC. Greek mathematician Archimedes is credited with the first algorithm calculating Pi in 250 BC.
My Pi soft spot goes to Gavrinis, a miniscule island off the coast of Brittany in France. A Neolithic site inhabited between 5000-3500 BC. In the 1930’s French archeologists poked about a burial chamber discovering 50 or so stone slabs with intricate carvings resembling fingerprints. Computer analysis defied explanation – Gavrinis “code” indicated exact number of days in a year, reference to the solstice and equinox, precise longitude and latitude of the island, and the “mathematical constant Pi”.
Happy Pi Day.