## 3.14 - Happy Pi Day

ruppab01

03/14/2013 - 8:24am

On March 14, 2013 (3/14) we will be celebrating Pi Day. It also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday; he was born on March 14, 1879! Coincidence?

- Pi is represented by the symbol π (the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet).
- It is an infinitely non-repeating decimal number beginning with 3.1415
- Pi is used in mathematical formula, most commonly to calculate the area of a circle (πr2), and the circumference of a circle (2πr).
- Pi Day was created in 1988 by Larry Shaw, a physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium (www.exploratorium.edu/pi/). Visit the site to learn fascinating facts about PI. Some of the activities that have taken place at the Exploratorium on PI day include a Pi Procession (each participant representing a digit of pi) while singing the Pi Day song and circling the Pi Shrine 3.14 times...and of course, eating pie.(1)
- In 2009 the U.S. House of Representatives approved House Resolution 224 "Supporting the designation of Pi Day" by a vote of 391-10. (2)
- To memorize the first ten digits of pi, you simply have to sing, to the tune of the Mousketeers song, "If numbers had a heaven / their god would surely be / 3.1415 / 92653." People have devised any number of methods to help them remember well more than ten digits. There is a form of poetry known as a piem, in which pi's digits are represented by the number of letters in each word. The best-known piem renders the first fifteen digits of pi as "How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy chapters involving quantum mechanics." (3)
- June 28 marks the celebration of pi's nemesis, tau, identical except it is twice as large: 6.28. Tau Day is designed to raise tau's recognition, and is directly pitched against Pi Day, March 14. (4)
- In 2011 jazz musician Lars Erickson from Omaha, NE, brought a lawsuit against Michael Blake of Portland, OR who released a song “What Pi Sounds Like” on YouTube. Erickson claimed that the song was too close to his own 1992 composition “Pi Symphony” which he had registered with the U.S. Copyright office. Both pieces translate Pi’s numbers into music. The judge ruled that “Pi is a non-copyrightable fact” and ironically, dismissed the lawsuit on Pi Day 2012 (5)
- One of the first formal mathematical attempts to calculate a value for π was conducted by Archimedes (287-212 B.C.) in the third century B.C. in his attempt to square the circle. (6)
- In the book and movie “Life of Pi” the protagonist renames himself from his original name, Piscine, because he is teased. He gives himself a new name – Pi - "And so, in that Greek letter that looks like a shack with a corrugated tin roof, in that elusive, irrational number with which scientists try to understand the universe, I found refuge." (7)

- O’Carroll, Eoin. "Pi Day: Why We Celebrate 3.14...; Pi Day: March 14 is Pi Day, Where Celebrants Contemplate the World’s Most Famous Irrational Number. Or Just Eat Some Pie.." Christian Science Monitor 14 Mar. 2011. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.
- "House Encourages Students to 'Observe' Pi Day." US Fed News Service Mar 14 2009. ProQuest. Web. 11 Mar. 2013 .
- Trillin, Calvin. "Try to Remember." The New Yorker 04 Apr 2011: 23. ProQuest. Web. 11 Mar. 2013 .
- Sebastian, Anthony. "Down with Pi! Today is Tau Day." ExtremeTech.com (2011) ProQuest. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.
- "Pi Suit Thrown Out." New Scientist 24 Mar. 2012: 4. ProQuest. Web. 11 Mar. 2013 .
- Karam, P. Andrew. "Eighteenth-Century Advances in Understanding π." Science and Its Times. Eds. Neil Schlager and Josh Lauer. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale, 2000. 209-211. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.
- Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Orlando: Harcourt, 2001. Print.

-- Maggie McElrath

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