Pi is one of the most intriguing numbers in the world and every 14th of March, or 3/14, the boffins of the world celebrate Pi Day. While most of us only get as far as 3.142 when using Pi in schools, this mathematical constant goes on forever and ever, with no end in sight.
This shouldn’t stop us from discovering interesting facts about Pi. But first, a quick refresher about what Pi is – it is the number that you will get if you divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter.
Another way of looking at it is that the circumference of a circles is approximately 3 times its diameter.
Interesting Facts About Pi And Pi Day
What that firmly in mind, here are some interesting fact about everybody’s favourite unending number, Pi.
With an infinite string of numbers, Pi isthe perfect test of human memory. According to the Guinness World Record, the current record holder for the most decimal places of Pi memorised is Rajveer Meena from India. He spent 10 hours recalling 70,000 places of Pi in March 2015. That’s quite a feat considering that most of us have trouble memorising a simple telephone number in this age of smartphones.
Symbol for Pi
The use of the Greek alphabet π or piwas to represent Pi dates back to 1706 when it was first used by British mathematician William Jones.
In the Right Place
π (piwas), the symbol commonly used to represent Pi, is the sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. The letter p is also in the sixteenth place of the English alphabet.
A Computer Workout
Some computers have calculated Pi up to 22 trillion digits. It is one way to stress test a computer’s processing power!
Archimedes & Pi
The first calculation of Pi was done by Archimedes of Syracuse (287 to 212 BC). The Greek mathematician calculated that Pi was between 3 1/7 and 3 10/71. Before Archimedes, the Babylonians, Egyptians and Chinese had also came up with approximations of Pi, but not as well calculated or close as Archimedes.
The first Pi Day was organised in 1988 by Larry Shaw, a physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium, a science museum. It was intended to make the mathematical concept more relatable to younger visitors and the day was celebrated with a circular parade and the eating of fruit pies.
Down to the Minute
To be absolutely correct, Pi Day starts off at 1.59 pm on 14 March. This combines the date and time be as close as possible to the approximate value of Pi, 3.14159.
Pi and Pies
It is just sheer coincidence that Pi is associated with circles and pies are also shaped as a circle. This coincidence does lend itself to a fair number of puns and jokes, for example, “What do you get when you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter? A Pumpkin Pi.” Collective groan.
Pi Day is Einstein’s Birthday
14 March also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday. The celebrated theoretical physicist was born 14 March 1879 in Germany.