March 14th is National Pi Day! That’s Pi not Pie. Just before you start thinking ‘brilliant, I have the perfect excuse to eat that slice of pie’, it’s not that type of Pie its a celebration of the most important number in ‘Maths’. (But you can of course, use it as an excuse to eat that piece of pie!)
Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, which is approximately 3.14159.
You may be thinking why is that so important? Well, the value of Pi is all around us, it’s not just important in geometry, it pops up all around us in our everyday lives, from the laws of gravity, fluid dynamics, to wheels on cars turning as they drive past you, to statistics and you simply looking at your watch.
But where did National Pi day evolve from? Back In 1988, physicist Larry Shaw launched the pi-partying day at the San Francisco-based Exploratorium science museum. Every year, on March 14 (3/14) staff and visitors walk a circular parade (and yes the diameter of the circle is like Pi times its circumference), each holding one of the infinite numbers of Pi. But Pi Day didn’t become a national event until
Here are 10 fun facts about the magic number.
- 1.) The Greek symbol for Pi was first used in 1706 by William Jones
- 2.) Have a Mirror to hand? Hold it in front of 3.14 and it will spell PIE (go on you know you want to try!)
- 3.) To accurately calculate the volume of our entire universe, you only need 39 digits past the decimal!
- 4.) There are no zeros in the first 31 digits of the number.
- 5.) The first six digits of Pi, 314159, appear in that order at least six times among the first ten million decimals of Pi.
- 6.) Star Trek fan? In one episode of the original Star Trek series, Spock destroys a computer by asking it to reveal the last digit of Pi.
- 7.) While most of us remember the digits 3.14, one man in Japan has managed to remember a staggering 111,700 digits!
- 8.) Exponential increase. Because Pi is an infinite number, humans will, by definition, never determine every single digit of Pi.
- 9.) The advent of computers radically improved humans’ knowledge of pi. Between 1949 and 1967, the number of known decimal places of pi skyrocketed from 2,037 on the ENIAC computer to 500,000 on the CDC 6600 in Paris, according to “A History of Pi” (St. Martin’s Press, 1976). And late last year, Peter Trueb, a scientist at the Swiss company Dectris Ltd., used a multithreaded computer program to calculate 22,459,157,718,361 digits of pi over the course of 105 days!
- 10.) From the discovery of ancient tablets, the ancient Babylonians knew of pi’s existence nearly 4,000 years ago!