It's Almost Pi(e) Day - YUM!
For those detest that math, tomorrow is the one day the subject becomes slightly tolerable. That's because it's Pi day, which means that the celebration will most likely entail chowing down a few pieces of its yummier food namesake - pie!
Now in its 26th year, the celebration of the numeral constant that represents the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, was started by San Francisco's Exploratorium Museum to commemorate the importance of mathematics in our daily lives. In 2009, the US house of Representatives made it official, by passing a resolution designating March 14 as National Pi day and encouraged schools and educators to observe it with appropriate Pi and math-related activities. The date (3.14) which is how Pi is recognized, also happens to be the birthday of 20th century's most influential physicist - Albert Einstein!
Pi day is now celebrated by educational institutions, museums and even corporations, all across the country. The Exploratorium, where it all began, has declared tomorrow a 'free' day for all visitors. The museum has also planned numerous fun activities that end with a parade down San Francisco's waterfront to the Pi Shrine, a brass plate engraved with the first 108 digits of the number that was installed in 2013, to honor the celebration's 25th anniversary. Once there, all participants will enjoy a slice of pie!
Massachusetts-based Raytheon plans to distribute apple pies to all middle and high school math teachers within 3.14 miles of company offices not just in its home state, but also, California, Arizona, Florida,Maryland and Virginia.
Most schools will celebrate the day with contests to see who can remember the most Pi decimals. Many bakeries are also planning to sell pies at a bargain $3.14 USD. Diehard Pi fans will probably repeat what they do every year - make bracelets or dream up Pi music.
So why is Pi so revered? Probably because it is pronounced the same way as the popular food and also because it still poses a challenge to even mathematicians that have tried solving it using super computers. That's because despite calculating it to the trillionth decimal place, the number experts have been unable to find a pattern or, an end to it.
And, while we have only been celebrating for 26 years, Pi is almost 4,000 years old. The ancient Babylonians were the first ones to calculate the area of a circle by multiplying 3 times the square of its radius, giving Pi the value of 3. They later got closer to the real number with an approximation of 3.124. In 1650 BC, Egyptian mathematicians overestimated the value slightly, arriving at a number of 3.165. Given that neither had even basic calculators at their disposal, the results were super impressive.
The first person to actually calculate Pi mathematically was one of ancient world's most brilliant mathematicians, Archimedes of Syracuse. But 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 with calculating this elusive number accurately has continued since then. But so far, no one has been able to crack the code!
Happy Pi Day!
Resources: now.msn.com,exploratorium.edu, time.com, npr.com
Create MLA, Chicago, or APA Website Citation
Create a website citation for this article. We support MLA8, MLA7, APA, and Chicago citation formats.
Article Comprehension (3 questions)
- What is Pi?
- Who started the celebration?
Critical Thinking Challenge
What did you do to celebrate this fun math holiday?