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July 22, 2014

Happy Pi Day!

Every year, we at The Mudflats tip our hat to the most beautiful, ever-changing, unpredictable, indispensable number that ever was: Pi.

People love Pi all the time. My kid’s school even has garden shrine to Pi outside the front door. The revered letter stands proud and tall, with flowers at its feet, standing as a wise and silent sentinel as eager young minds pass by on their way to stimulate the grey matter.

pigarden

Today is “Pi Day.” March 14 = 3/14 = 3.14 = pi. Roughly. And it’s time to love Pi, even a little more than we usually do.

I have always loved Pi. I remember the day I learned about Pi. It was the same day I learned about negative numbers – a banner day, mathematically speaking, for a kid with a giant blackboard and a big brother who was a math major.

So many other numbers just seem to conform. They are predictable and knowable. With 5, you know exactly what you’re getting. You’re getting  5. But Pi is an anomaly. It is deliciously significant in the fabric of things. You need it to figure out the nuts and bolts of a simple circle, for goodness sake. But Pi itself stands outside the metaphorical circle, and defies anyone to really figure it out. You can know what it is, but you can never really know IT. It can’t even be memorized. It is irrational, and proud of it. It is transcendental, mathematically and conceptually. Among numbers it is King. Or Queen. Or Court Jester.

It makes grown men and women of the mathematical persuasion start to wax poetic, and make jokes. It’s a number even an English major could love.

chickenpi

Pi is actually

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609...

… and on, and on – infinitely and without pattern. Take that.

So, if I’d been thinking, I might have made note of today at 1:59am plus 26 and a half seconds as “pi moment.” I wonder if anyone paid attention in 1592 when the date was 3/14/1592 – a full on, “in-your-face” pi day.

From wikipedia:

π (sometimes written pi) is a mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of any circle‘s circumference to its diameter in Euclidean space; this is the same value as the ratio of a circle’s area to the square of its radius. It is approximately equal to 3.141593 in the usual decimal notation. (snip)Many formulae from mathematics, science, and engineering involve π, which is one of the most important mathematical and physical constants.[5]

π is an irrational number, which means that its value cannot be expressed exactly as a fractionm/n, where m and n are integers. Consequently, its decimal representation never ends or repeats. It is also a transcendental number, which implies, among other things, that no finite sequence of algebraic operations on integers (powers, roots, sums, etc.) can be equal to its value; proving this was a late achievement in mathematical history and a significant result of 19th century German mathematics. Throughout the history of mathematics, there has been much effort to determine π more accurately and to understand its nature; fascination with the number has even carried over into non-mathematical culture.

The Greek letter π, often spelled out pi in text, was adopted for the number from the Greek word for perimeter “περίμετρος”, first byWilliam Jones in 1707, and popularized byLeonhard Euler in 1737.

So, now what? How does one celebrate this special day? Before you just go the safe route and march around in a circle reciting digits, check out this web page which lists all sorts of fun ways to celebrate Pi Day. This is not a time to hide your nerdiness under a bushel. Today you get to wear it like a badge. Let it out of the closet, and go for a run for pi miles – you’ll never know when you hit it, but when you’ve gone 3.2 miles, you’ve gone too far. Bake a pie, throw a pie, rent the movie Pi, or have a pi-zza pie.

And as if this was not enough to get your inner mathemetician all a-twitter, you can raise a glass of pi-napple juice and give a toast to Albert Einstein whose birthday was today. Naturally.

So, Happy Pi Day to you all. I’m going to celebrate by eating something out of my pi plate. Yes, I really have one just like this:

pi-plate

Comments

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Comments
7 Responses to “Happy Pi Day!”
  1. Zyxomma says:

    I celebrated Albert Einstein’s birthday with a lovely circular treat (raw coconut cream tart, which is simply a little pie), and by watching the excellent movie, Life of Pi.

  2. thatcrowwoman says:

    Thanks, AKM.
    Your reminder just made my (Pi) day.
    *passing everyone a generous slice of blueberry pie with a lovely lattice crust*
    *fresh vanilla ice cream, also, too*
    hahahahahacawCawCAW!
    thatcrowwoman

  3. mike from iowa says:

    I’m gonna make this simple. I annoint Alaska Pi as the Universe’s newest and greatest super hero-Ms PFFFFTTTT. I will gladly make a cape for her out of tanned rwnj hides of her choice.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      hehehehe! :-)
      No hero here, Mikey, nor beautifully irrational and transcendental like the rill pi
      Merely humanly irrational and unable to transcend the mundane

      I do adore pi and the funny lil e of natural logs and some of the others but I do not like the square root of 2. Not at all. What seemed terribly tidy about the Pythagorean theorem to a small child was chucked into total disarray with the square root of 2 dealie and I have never recovered from it.

      • mike from iowa says:

        Only real use I found for Pi was to calculate how far a sprayer wheel would go in one revolution so we could calibrate the sprayer and nozzles for agriculture spraying. However,when you add an e after the i the results manifest themselves on my thighs,hips, butt,etc. I’ll eat most any pie that doesn’t contain LIVER!!!!(and it shows,too still yet)

        • Alaska Pi says:

          Lots and lots of uses for pi in water/wastewater treatment- something this Pi did for almost a decade. Still lots of uses in this Pi’s work, not the least of which is calculating lengths in coils of rolled copper pipe- useful in multiple ways and charming in simplicity of method :-)
          Oh e on pi truly is dangerously wonderful. I’ve long wondered if growth from material pi-e could be expressed within mathematical notions of :
          “e is the base rate of growth shared by all continually growing processes. e lets you take a simple growth rate (where all change happens at the end of the year) and find the impact of compound, continuous growth, where every nanosecond (or faster) you are growing just a little bit.

          e shows up whenever systems grow exponentially and continuously: population, radioactive decay, interest calculations, and more. Even jagged systems that don’t grow smoothly can be approximated by e.”
          http://betterexplained.com/articles/an-intuitive-guide-to-exponential-functions-e/

          (love that site !)
          :-)

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