Going full circle for math and pastries on a special Pi Day


Saturday is the day when love of math and a hankering for pastry come full circle. Saturday is Pi Day, a once-in-a-year calendar date that this time squares the fun with a once-in-a-century twist.

Saturday is 3-14-15, the first five digits of the mathematical constant pi: 3.141592653. The best times to celebrate are at 9:26 and 53 seconds, morning and evening. The next time that happens is in March 2115.

"It's a portal into this magical mysterious world of mathematics," said University of California Berkeley mathematician and author Edward Frenkel. "Pi is special."

Pi is the constant used to calculate the area of a circle, as in pi times the radius squared, but it appears all over other parts of mathematics. It "is kind of a basic atomic building block" for math, said Temple University mathematician and author John Paulos, who was interviewed at precisely 3:14:15 p.m.

In some places, Pi Day is celebrated with the edible type of pie.

"It's a real exciting moment for math enthusiasm," said Nathan Kaplan, a Yale University math professor, who called it a time for people to "remember how much fun they found some of the stuff in school."

Kaplan acknowledged that most people don't really recall math as fun, blaming that on how it's taught: "There's fun stuff out there in the quantitative world."

One interesting aspect of pi is that it is irrational, which means the decimals after 3 go on to infinity with no repeating patterns. Yet in 1897, a bill before the Indiana legislature tried to round it up to 3.2. It fell flat.

"We cannot change it. It's not subject to opinion or taste or time," Frenkel said. "How many things like this in the universe mean the same thing to everyone through time and space?"

This pi story goes full circle, with exactly 314 words.

Explore further

On Pi Day, how scientists use this number

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User comments

Mar 13, 2015
A pie pi wide is pi square around.

Mar 14, 2015
Too much pi gives you a large circumference.

Mar 14, 2015
Just finished it. Apple pie with cool whip.

Mar 15, 2015
ubavontuba with his best but futile attempt at humour
Too much pi gives you a large circumference
Sounds like a bot humour program yet its funny you claim the scientific responses to your blurts on climate change are drive by bots !

Timing & nature of your posts r far more consistent with bot behaviour especially so as u haven't claimed a degree or even any highschool education in Physics - is that true ?

If u did have high school education u should know there are several forms of heat transfer & therefore be able to assess; by straighforward technical enquiry, level of heat retained by greenhouse gases - but don't ?

Conclusion is clear; either u r PAID to obfuscate the science process being immensely intellectually dis-ingenuous OR u have absolutely no high-school education & worse of low IQ so u cannot learn the basics re heat & those essentials ie Specific heat & Latent heat & apply them !

Either logic path ubavontuba, show u are not a credible debater !

Mar 16, 2015
I have nothing against PI, but I think that the American date system is illogical. Numbers in date should be in ascending or in descending order of importance, like in 14.3.2015 or 20150314. I prefer the latter in filenames, because one can sort those. Yes, I understand that when date is given as March 14, 2015, you end up as 3-14-2015. But that numerical order still is illogical.

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