It's Pi Day. You know, 3.14 or π, an enigma in mathematical circles. A mathematical constant that has no end, seemingly thumbing its nose to definition. Pi gets a lot of fun attention around the world. In fact, last year a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence took place -- Pi Day of the century where the date and time approximated to 10 digits, drawing attention from both classroom teachers to the scientists at NASA. While this year may not be quite as exciting, here are a few fun facts about pi:
- Chao Lu holds the world record for remembering the value of pi up to 67,890 digits.
- Pi has been the star of TV and film, including "Star Trek," "The Net" and "Pi: Faith in Chaos."
- The value of pi has been determined to more than one trillion digits.
- Famous birthdays on pi day include Billy Crystal, Quincy Jones and Albert Einstein.
- Archimedes (287-212 B.C.) was so furiously calculating pi that he missed the Roman soldiers taking over the Greek city of Syracuse. When the soldiers approached him, he yelled, "Do not touch my circles!" The Roman soldier cut off his head and went on his business.
But mostly pi is significant because of its connection to cycles and all things circular. Consider that the average sinuosity of a river -- the distance of its bends and turns divided from its source to the ocean, is 3.14. Pi is used for TV and radio to optimize signals sent to one's home. Egyptians used pi to construct the pyramids. Pi is used by structural engineers who need to design buildings able to withstand earthquakes. Pi is also involved in the creation of a rainbow. Even the distance one hits a golf ball can be analyzed with pi, as the shoulder turn creates a circular pattern that, when scrutinized, can help the golfer improve distance and score!
So, welcome Pi Day! Your history and impact on our world is honored today. For me, I'll take a slice of berry pie -- to go.
Champions of the unexpected