Mmmm...pi!

Yes, it’s that time of year again. And in the furious flurry of goings-on--in the news, in the blogs, and out here in my meatspace day-to-day--I have to admit that were it not for a quick happenstance glimpse at a nondescript corner of my newspaper during my ride to work yesterday morning, I’d have let National Pi Day come and go without so much as a passing thought (I don't often get to savor the newspaper; it's more akin to stuffing a heat-lamped burger into my snackhole as I rush off to other things).

And ironically enough, the title of the brief snippet I nearly page-flipped over was: *Don't Miss: Pi Day*

I've been a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area for a bit over seven years now; among the many aspects of this very strange and engaging chunk of the planet I love is that within the regional cultural fabric are tightly-woven threads tethered to raising unabashed geekitude to a righteous, happy, high art. So it came to no surprise to learn that the first National Pi Day was celebrated at San Francisco's Exploratorium in 1988.

Now, I am not a mathematician. I suppose I’m more of a polymath. Hmm...no, that’s not quite right either. A polymath is one who is deeply knowledgeable about a wide range of topics and subjects. I am at best genuinely interested in a wide range of topics and subjects, but the admittedly limited understanding I possess of each and all serves mostly as basis for snarkcraft and as twaddle fodder.

I guess that would make me more of a pillymath. Oh, but already, I digress.

One of those subjects that, for whatever set of reasons, I find terribly charming is that of the irrational number. These are numbers that cannot be expressed as a ratio of non-zero rational numbers, and may not be expressed as a string of decimals that either repeat or terminate.

My personal favorite irrational number happens to be phi. The Golden Ratio.  A prominent component in the morphological organization of natural life and systems; intrinsically pleasing to the eye and a likely candidate for inclusion in architectural expressions and within sacred geometry across cultures and centuries; and the topic for another day altogether.

Today, our task is to turn our attention and give it up to our friend Pi.

And while I reveal a bias for the Golden Ratio, without question, Pi is truly, in its own right, one saucy mathematic customer. A member of a special subset of the irrational number realm, Pi is a transcendental number. These are numbers that cannot be derived by algebraic solution. The square root of 2 is irrational, but not transcendental. All transcendental numbers are irrational, not all irrational numbers are transcendental. Meditate on that.

And ponder this as well. Approaching it from a more philosophical standpoint, as I’m wont to, its very nature strikes me as deeply remarkable, and, yeah, moving. Consider the circle: among the most simple, pure geometric forms in the universe. A locus of points that are precisely the same distance from one, single, central point. Pure. Simple.

Yet the linear distance around the center (a finite distance), compared to the distance from any one point to the center (another finite distance), will predictably, necessarily yield an unending string of digits. The deceptive simplicity and the purity of the circle belie an intrinsically unknowable and indefinite aspect that is at the very root of its purity and its simplicity.

And perhaps it may well be the case that I need to get out more, but I find deep satisfaction in the act of mentally masticating on the wonders such as this that we’re surrounded by. Chalk it up to my left-wing appetite for ambiguity, but the irony that’s associated with this--regardless of our technological prowess, no mind given to the rapid-pace of ongoing developments in and from the human mind, and to the astonishing things that we’ll witness, enthralled, being developed in our lifetime, we’ll never fully know the circle--this is something that I find to be completely delicious. And I’m talking maple smoked bacon or butterscotch sundae delicious here. Yes. To me, it's just that good.

There was a fun, colorful, small-format hardcover book I used to own (I suspect that it was a victim of the load-lightening cull job I pulled on my acres of shit in preparation for my Maine to California move in late 2000), but it still appears to be available, and I commend to any and all The Joy of Pi by David Blatner.

Courtesy of the efforts of Mr. Blatner, as expressed not just in this book but on his website, I offer one particular nibble of Pi trivia that I enjoy (likely owing to my having spent some time in graduate school actually studying river channels):

Pi and the Length of Rivers
From Fermat's Enigma, by Simon Singh

"Professor Hans-Henrik Stolum, an earth scientist at Cambridge University has calculated the ratio between the (sic) actual length of rivers from source to mouth and their direct length as the crow flies. Although the ratio varies from river to river, the average value is slightly greater than 3, that is to say that the actual length is roughly three times greater than the direct distance. In fact the ratio is approximately 3.14, which is close to the value of the number pi... The ratio of pi is most commonly found for rivers flowing across very gently sloping planes, such as those found in Brazil or the Siberian tundra."

I’m including, below, for any of you who wish to let your inner geek off the chain for an impertinent little romp, a smattering of pi links to assuage the hunger pangs of wandermouselust. Please drop a comment with any pi facts, bits of pi trivia, and the like that you may stumble across or already have living inside your head that you find compelling.

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/...

http://www.geocities.com/...

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/...

http://www.angio.net/...

Digits! Get your digits! Pi to A Thousand Places!

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816

40628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709384460955058223172

53594081284811174502841027019385211055596446229489549303819644288109756

65933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213

39360726024914127372458700660631558817488152092096282925409171536436789

25903600113305305488204665213841469519415116094330572703657595919530921

86117381932611793105118548074462379962749567351885752724891227938183011

94912983367336244065664308602139494639522473719070217986094370277053921

71762931767523846748184676694051320005681271452635608277857713427577896

09173637178721468440901224953430146549585371050792279689258923542019956

11212902196086403441815981362977477130996051870721134999999837297804995

10597317328160963185950244594553469083026425223082533446850352619311881

71010003137838752886587533208381420617177669147303598253490428755468731

15956286388235378759375195778185778053217122680661300192787661119590921

642019

This is a Non-Candidate Diary.

Celebrate the circle, but don’t be a jerk--the firing squad’s not invited. Set your watches tomorrow for 1:59 local time, and treat yourself to some irrationality. Buy a round of drinks, and maybe go happily off on some tangents.

And a very, very happy National Pi Day to you all!

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#### Comment Preferences

• ##### Niceee(11+ / 0-)

And a happy pi day to you, sir/madam. As the area of a circle tells us, pi are squared. Which always confuses me, given that circles are round.

• ##### But not nearly as nice(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
pat bunny, homo neurotic, kyril

as Steak and Blowjob Day, and oh my, is that not a safe for work site.

So long as men die, Liberty will never perish. -- Charlie Chaplin, "The Great Dictator"

[ Parent ]

• ##### well then(4+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
osterizer, SallyCat, khereva, kyril

i really need to do better at getting my mid-february priorities dialed in. wow.

(t-bone? sirloin? new york strip?)

Time for Miles to soothe me again, because jazz is the antibush. --zic

[ Parent ]

• ##### most definite.(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
SallyCat, homo neurotic, kyril

and to remember to start thawing the steaks in advance.

So long as men die, Liberty will never perish. -- Charlie Chaplin, "The Great Dictator"

[ Parent ]

• ##### Vegetarians only have half the fun ? Oh 3.14 !(5+ / 0-)

"Better a little late, than a little never"..Doctor Julian Winston

[ Parent ]

• ##### Wore my pi sweatshirt for Jersey Number Day (5+ / 0-)

when I was teaching.  Most people didn't see the humor.

• ##### Q: What do you get(9+ / 0-)

when you divide the circumference of your jack-o-lantern by its diameter?

A: Pumpkin Pi

Restore constitutional government in America. Impeach Bush and Cheney.

• ##### ROFLMAO...HHaaahahaa..jack off a lantern ?(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
SallyCat, homo neurotic, kyril

"Better a little late, than a little never"..Doctor Julian Winston

[ Parent ]

• ##### Pi and rivers(6+ / 0-)

When you think about it a bit it gets even more interesting.
Just how long is a river anyway? I remember when fractals first were the rage when Mandelbrot's book came out. An example often cited was determining the length of a coastline. The finer the scale, the longer the coast becomes. If you were to trace out the distance around each individual rock and grain of sand you could end of with a coast line manytimes as long as your measurement taken from a normal scale map.
Likewise for a rivers length I would guess that tracing a true center line would involve ever finer scales of measurement of the opposing shorelines and splitting the distance between them, resulting in a line whose length would change depending on the fineness of your scale.
So, not only does the ratio approach PI, it is also an indeterminite number of sorts for each river.

• ##### Hm(4+ / 0-)

Which ratio approaches pi? The ratio of the terms of the series describing the fractal?

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

[ Parent ]

• ##### refering to the original post(4+ / 0-)

The post dscribed the ratio of the length of the river's "real" length to the straight line distance between the two terminal points as approximating Pi. Sorry I'm no mathemetician, I forgot that to say "approaching PI" has a specific meaning I didn't intend.
I was merely taken by the idea that the true length of the river is difficult to determine because the scale of measurement has an effect on the result, therefore the ratio itself is also undeterminable.
It is not precisely analogus but caught my fancy.
I didn't mean to confuse by misusing mathematical terms.

• ##### Ahh(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
osterizer, homo neurotic, fat old man

Interesting!

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

[ Parent ]

• ##### Thats true, but its still just relative to the (1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
homo neurotic

observer or measurer assuming measuring accomplished in the same plane and time frame..Of course another observer flashing by on a beam of light would observe you as unmoving..A brief history of time, I read it..of course it was The Chicken furst..First understand relativity and then we are hit with the uncertainty principle..Thanx Albert and Max

"Better a little late, than a little never"..Doctor Julian Winston

[ Parent ]

• ##### While pi gets all the credit, e languishes in (9+ / 0-)

obscurity, unremarked.

It's sort of an outrage actually, since e is a great (and very friendly) irrational number.

Pi gets all the glory, but someone ought to give some appreciating to integrating e into the equation.

Ignorance Kills.

• ##### I like pi better(4+ / 0-)

There's only one good thing about e, and that's doing calculus with it. But the graphs are ugly.

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

[ Parent ]

• ##### I hate to see such bias against e.(9+ / 0-)

What people often forget is that e is a natural number.

Irrational and natural.   It's sort of sexy, don't you think?

Also you have to keep in mind, that it's little natural number act aside, e still manages to be functional.   There's nothing derivative about the number either.  No matter how many changes are going on, it's constant.

Pi is sort of like your mother:  You love her, and she sort of rounds you out, but e is like a hot lover defining the curves life takes.

Ignorance Kills.

[ Parent ]

• ##### Good explanation but seemed pornographic..(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:

or erotic..? Prob just me..Oedipus Rexin

"Better a little late, than a little never"..Doctor Julian Winston

[ Parent ]

• ##### And pi has this simple, intimate threesome going(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
homo neurotic, Johnny Rapture

with e and i (the square root of -1):

e^{(pi)i} = -1

Me, I'm just boggled.

Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

[ Parent ]

• ##### i'll have to ponder that one.(6+ / 0-)

i've taken note of your insights. in my log, naturally...  :)

Time for Miles to soothe me again, because jazz is the antibush. --zic

[ Parent ]

• ##### I celebrate e day on the 71st of February (7+ / 0-)

every year...

That may or may not be why it doesn't get its own day.  e and i are kind of screwed (although I'm all for an epsilon nought or h bar day!)

• ##### There is only room for one Sherriff in this (2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
SallyCat, homo neurotic

"E"quation Pilgrim..So get get out of Tomb"E"ston"E" by noon or "E" will RIP

"Better a little late, than a little never"..Doctor Julian Winston

[ Parent ]

• ##### Half a pi is especially good when it's 90 degrees(5+ / 0-)

e likes pi, but the relationship is sometimes expressed as imaginary as in e ^ (i*pi). However I would not sine or even cosine to this fact.

• ##### Nothing imaginary...(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
homo neurotic, ryangoesboom

about sigma(n=0 to infinity)(i^n+1)(pi^2n+1)/(2n+1)! + sigma(n=0 to infinity)((-1)^n)(pi^2n)/(2n)! = cos pi + i * sin pi = -1 + i*0 = -1!

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

[ Parent ]

• ##### You seem to have gone off on a tangent.(4+ / 0-)

Maybe you're trying to make waves - I don't know - but in the interest of having a harmonic discussion here, I think we should pursue the right angle if we wish to have a ray of hope.

I was trying to integrate the inverse to pi-ism into this relation, but maybe this isn't the right area to be in.

Ignorance Kills.

[ Parent ]

• ##### Blackberry!(12+ / 0-)

Sorry, hn, I couldn't resist.  :0)

Actually, my son loves stuff like this and I sent it on to him.

Thank you!

"Ancora Imparo." ("I am still learning.") - Michelangelo, Age 87

• ##### Thanks for mentioning phi. :)(6+ / 0-)
Pi is the constant of engineers; figuring into the circumference of rotary blades, gear ratios, and the like.

Phi is the sadly-too-neglected constant of artists and other creative people.  It's intertwined with the Fibonacci sequence, great works of art, single mothers, and the human body.

So join me on January 61st at... oh, wait...

Despite what you say, Hillary Clinton weighs more than a duck.

• ##### seriously. for real.(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
osterizer, SallyCat, kyril

for me too, phi is truly magical stuff.

Time for Miles to soothe me again, because jazz is the antibush. --zic

[ Parent ]

• ##### That said, (3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
SallyCat, homo neurotic, kyril
this pi mnemonic is pretty darn magical.

And impressive as hell, too.

Despite what you say, Hillary Clinton weighs more than a duck.

[ Parent ]

• ##### Cyber punk !(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
osterizer, homo neurotic

"Better a little late, than a little never"..Doctor Julian Winston

[ Parent ]

Can it be "Pi Day" again already?

In honor of Pi Day, check out this video about Daniel Tammet, who memorized some huge number of digits of pi.

• ##### Oh I like that picture....!(4+ / 0-)

Sums things up nicely!

Memo to Congress: Put up or shut up ~ all talk and no action pisses me off.

[ Parent ]

• ##### Another one celebrating 7+ years in Bay Area.(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
SallyCat, homo neurotic, kyril

Moved here permanently in 2/01, just in time for the dot bomb bust.
Pi has a special place in my heart as both a mathematically inclined person (I should have been a math major), and an AOPi.

My Karma just ran over your Dogma

• ##### My daughter just finished making 3 pies(6+ / 0-)

for the graduate Computer Science snack tomorrow afternoon at UW-Madison.  Last year while she was an undergraduate, the mother of one of her housemates brought over a pie and stood out on the porch until exactly 1:59 before ringing the doorbell.

• ##### Very good!(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
SallyCat, homo neurotic, kyril

A poll with "pi" in it.  That justifies the whole diary!

• ##### Pooties for everything!(6+ / 0-)

Memo to Congress: Put up or shut up ~ all talk and no action pisses me off.

• ##### i can haz irrational number?(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
SallyCat, bustacap, kyril

fantastic. good gravy, your image library melts my brain. always just the right pootie for the occasion. love it!

Time for Miles to soothe me again, because jazz is the antibush. --zic

[ Parent ]

• ##### I learned from the best: PhillyGal(4+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
osterizer, homo neurotic, FireCrow, kyril

Actually I love the geeky stuff...just don't have a clue as to what it means!

I have a good diary ready for tomorrow...St Patrick's Day alcohol choices...and pooties of course, about lunch time left coast!

Memo to Congress: Put up or shut up ~ all talk and no action pisses me off.

[ Parent ]

• ##### What a beautifully written diary!(4+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
SallyCat, homo neurotic, kyril, palantir

I wish that I had your special talent of finding that "just right" way to put the words together.

Yes. Cheers to Pi! To the Diameters AND the .14...'ers!

Now, mark your calendar for the next significant honor something/someone day!

An ostrich with its head in the sand is just as blind to opportunity as to disaster.

• ##### kind, kind words. thank you! (3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
SallyCat, Spoonfulofsugar, kyril

Time for Miles to soothe me again, because jazz is the antibush. --zic

[ Parent ]

• ##### It's Einstein's birthday too!(6+ / 0-)

3/14, 1897.

-4.38, -7.64 Voyager 1: proof that what goes up never comes down.

• ##### How fitting!(4+ / 0-)

I didn't realize that! Happy Pi/Einstein Day!

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

[ Parent ]

• ##### Pi day songs!(12+ / 0-)

I wrote these for my daughter when she was in junior high school -

pi Day Songs

1. (tune: Happy Birthday)

Happy pi day to you,
Happy pi day to you,
Happy pi day, happy pi day.
Happy pi day to you!

1. (tune: Mary had a little lamb)

Many fractions terminate,
Terminate, terminate,
Many fractions terminate,
But pi’s irrational!

1. A pi cheer (particularly appropriate for a competition on pi Day)

E to the x, dx, dx!
E to the x, dx!
Secant, cosine, tangent, sine,
3.14159
Go, team!

1. (tune: Twinkle, twinkle, little star)

3.14159
If with pi you draw a line
It will be quite round and free.
Come and play with pi with me!
3.14159
One is nice, but pi is fine!

1. (tune: Home, home on the range)

pi, pi in the sky,
pi’s in the air and on the ground,
Wherever we go,
There is pi there, you know,
And always so perfectly round!

1. (tune: the alphabet song)

3.14159
All the numbers in a line.
Every one has just one spot,
But poor old pi has got no slot.
We can’t tell where pi will fall
‘Cause poor old pi’s irrational!

1. (tune: Row, row, row your boat)

Curve, curve mightily,
Right around the bend!
3.14159
This will never end!

• ##### oh. my. god.(5+ / 0-)

i'm nearly in tears. those are KILLING me!

Time for Miles to soothe me again, because jazz is the antibush. --zic

[ Parent ]

• ##### Thank you for providing the occasion to (5+ / 0-)

resurrect them. I may share them with my students tomorrow as a partial reward for coming to class the last hour before spring break.

• ##### Bet you really cry over Danny Boy then ? (2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Wee Mama, homo neurotic

"Better a little late, than a little never"..Doctor Julian Winston

[ Parent ]

• ##### none to show(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
Wee Mama

i'm actually descended from a grizzled lot of french canadians.

Time for Miles to soothe me again, because jazz is the antibush. --zic

[ Parent ]

• ##### brilliant wee mama!(6+ / 0-)

The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

[ Parent ]

• ##### I enjoyed this diary(5+ / 0-)

this part however, made me dizzy and then my brain shut down.

All transcendental numbers are irrational, not all irrational numbers or transcendental. Meditate on that.

It reminded me of one of those "If Gorps are always the same a Wippys and Wippys are the same as Toodles, are Toodles  the same as Gorps" type questions. And of course the answer is always no even though I said well of course they are, then I feel like an idiot.

;)

The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same." Carlos Castaneda

• ##### yikes! nice snag.(5+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
osterizer, SallyCat, bustacap, FireCrow, kyril

that "or" should be "are."

Time for Miles to soothe me again, because jazz is the antibush. --zic

[ Parent ]

• ##### Worcester Polytechnic Institute...(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
SallyCat, homo neurotic, kyril

...is a beautiful little technical school just a little ways north of me here in MA.  My daughter attended a robotics camp there last year, and we went to the Co-op to get souvenirs - I ended up with a hat that says Wπ as an abbreviation for WPI, and it has pi carried out to 16 digits on the back!  Cool hat, very geeky, and my daughter will be wearing it to school tomorrow...

• ##### Yeah, I'll admit it...(3+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
homo neurotic, Johnny Rapture, kyril

I memorized:

"3.1415926545" a long time back.

The reason?  It's one digit further than most calculators go.  Yeah, I'm that kid.

"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." ~Voltaire

• ##### 3.14159265*3*5...(2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
homo neurotic, kyril

lol!  It's way easier to "speak" than to type it along the top of a keyboard!

"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." ~Voltaire

[ Parent ]

• ##### Heh(2+ / 0-)

3.14159265358979323846264338 is as far as I got. I don't recall why, but I do recall that I did it in Quebec (originally memorized it in French), so it had to be before I turned 8. One does the strangest things when one's mother is in the process of getting a math degree...

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

[ Parent ]

• ##### Vying for attention much? :P nt(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
homo neurotic

"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." ~Voltaire

[ Parent ]

• ##### Meh. Happens every year.(1+ / 0-)
Recommended by:
homo neurotic

Now 1:23:45 on June 7, 1989 -- that was a moment to celebrate!  My thirteen-month long crusade to convince people to join me in celebrating 12:34:56 July 8, 1990 was unfortunately fruitless.

:)
Thanks for the reminder, homo neurotic.  I'll be sure to celebrate tomorrow!