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Happy 24th Pi Day! Yes we actually set aside a day to celebrate the numerical constant that represents the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, on a flat plane surface. Why today? Because while Pi has been calculated to one trillion digits past the decimal point, we all simply recognize it as 3.14, which also happens to be, today's date.
Started in 1988 by San Francisco's Exploratorium museum to celebrate the importance of mathematics in our everyday lives, the date happens to coincide with Albert Einstein's birthday.
And in case you are wondering, it is not just celebrated by math geeks, but also, foodies who use it as an excuse to bake and eat delectable Pi(es), artists who create Pi bracelets, musicians who dream up Pi music and even corporations, like America's Ford Motor company who got into the spirit by posing a total of 42 math equations on Reddit.com, one every 3.14 minute.
So why are we all so fascinated with this mathematical number? Apparently, because it is a mystery even to mathematicians who tried to crack Pi's code with the help of super computers. However, even after calculating it to the trillionth decimal place, they were unable to find a pattern or an end to it.
And, while Pi day is just twenty four years old, the number itself is almost 4,000 years old. The ancient Babylonians first calculated the area of a circle by taking 3 times the square of its radius, giving Pi the value of 3. They later got close to the real number with an approximation of 3.124. Egyptian mathematicians overestimated the value slightly, arriving at a number of 3.165 in 1650 BC. However, given that these ancient cultures came up with their approximations using simple measurement tools, the results were pretty impressive.
The first person to actually calculate Pi mathematically was one of ancient world's most brilliant mathematicians, Archimedes of Syracuse. However, he was smart enough to realize that his number was also an approximation and concluded that Pi could vary between 3 1/7 and 3 10/71. The fascination of calculating this elusive number accurately has continued since then and so far, no-one seems to have cracked the code!
Happy Pi Day! Be sure to let us know if you did anything special to celebrate this fun day.
Resources: latimes.com, now.msn.com,exploratorium.edu