Pick a number between three and four.
How about 3.14?
Friday, March 14, was Pi Day, chosen because the numbers in the date (3-14) approximate the first three numerals of the most fascinating mathematical constant that ever was.
Since it’s never a bad time for a math or history lesson, let’s review why this number has captivated humans for centuries and why it’s worth celebrating today.
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In geometry, pi is the ratio of the circumference of a perfect circle (the length around it) to its diameter (the length across it).
It’s a constant number, meaning that for a circle the size of a quarter and a circle the size of AT&T Stadium, pi will be exactly the same number, which is approximately 3.14159265 … .
The number doesn’t end there; it goes on infinitely, never repeating itself.
According to piday.org (yes, the day has its own website), “Pi has been calculated to over 1 trillion digits beyond its decimal point.” And its “infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.”
In 2009, the 111th Congress found the mysterious number worthy of a piece of legislation. House Resolution 224 supported the designation of Pi Day and its celebration around the world on March 14.
The legislation importantly acknowledged that “America needs to reinforce mathematics and science education for all students in order to better prepare our children for the future and in order to compete in a 21st-century economy … And learning about pi can be an engaging way to teach children about geometry and attract them to study science and mathematics.”
That’s a lot of responsibility for one “little” number to undertake.
But given its fidelity over the years, we should feel confident that if anyone can stimulate a deeper excitement in the mysteries of mathematics, pi can do it.
If the thrill of Pi Day this year was almost too much to bear, wait until next year when it will be celebrated on 3-14-15. It will also be Albert Einstein’s 136th birthday.
Your mind is exploding, right?
So, how did you celebrate Pi Day?