Posted on March 15, 2011
No not the ones you eat you silly goose! But the mesmerizing mathematical constant, yeah it’s that time of the year!
Every March 14 (3.14 hehe) the
geeks world celebrates Pi-day, but for all non-geeks, what is Pi actually?
“π (sometimes written pi) is a mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of any Euclidean planecircle‘s circumference to its diameter; this is the same value as the ratio of a circle’s area to the square of its radius. It is approximately equal to 3.14159265 in the usual decimal notation. Many formulae from mathematics, science, and engineering involve π, which makes it one of the most important mathematical constants.
Probably because of the simplicity of its definition, the concept of π has become entrenched in popular culture to a degree far greater than almost any other mathematical construct. It is, perhaps, the most common ground between mathematicians and non-mathematicians. Reports on the latest, most-precise calculation of π (and related stunts) are common news items.
- In Carl Sagan‘s novel Contact, π played a key role in the story. The novel suggested that there was a message buried deep within the digits of π placed there by the creator of the universe. This part of the story was omitted from the film adaptation of the novel.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Wolf in the Fold“, after a murderous alien entity (which had once been Jack the Ripper) takes over the Enterprise‘s main computer with the intention of using it to slowly kill the crew, Kirk and Spock draw the entity out of the computer by forcing it to compute pi to the nonexistent last digit, causing the creature to abandon the computer, allowing it to be beamed into space.
- The Wheel of Dublin (Ferris wheel) has been nicknamed “the pi in the sky”.
- In the fictional movie, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, pi is the answer to the combination that will allow the Tablet of Akh-man-Ra to open the gates to the Underworld.
- Coincidentally, Pi Day is also the birthday of Albert Einstein, who no doubt knew more than a little about pi.