Happy Pi Day! You heard that right: Today is March 14 . . . or 3.14. People around the world are celebrating the day because of its relation to the number (or the beginning of the number) of pi.
Many mathematicians define pi as “the ratio of a circle’s circumference (the round boundary) to its diameter (a straight line through the center of a circle).” Knowing the value of pi allows for complex calculations of area, volume, shape, and angle.
Ancient Babylonians and Egyptians first discovered the importance of pi sometime before 1600 BC. Greek mathematicians named the number for the symbol of a Greek letter. In English, the letter sounds like “pie.”
Pi is an infinite number. Because it is infinite, no one apart from an infinite, omniscient God will ever be able to calculate its end. Most mathematical uses for pi involve only hundreds of digits. But since the rise of the supercomputer, scientists continue to calculate pi to more and more decimal places. Doing so allows them to test their powerful computers—and make news by breaking records. To date, humans have calculated pi to 22,459,257,718,361 digits.
Pi even has its own writing “style” called Pilish. In Pilish, the letter-lengths of words mirror the numbers of pi. For example, the following sentence contains words with 3-1-4-1-5-9-2-6-5-3-5-8-9-7 letters in a row—or pi to the 13th place:
Now I need a sleep, welcoming in nature after the awful problems—including illness.
Some math nerds enjoy memorizing digits of pi. The person who so far has memorized the most digits is Rajveer Meena of India. In 2015, he recited 70,000 numerals after the decimal.
Today, pi celebrants will march in circles, eat—and throwi—fruit and pizza pies, and enjoy punning about all things pi.
Have you ever memorized some of the digits of pi? How will you celebrate Pi Day?
(Dhetee Deb recites pi from memory at Hamtramck Academy, Michigan. AP Photo)