Happy Pi day!
“Probably no symbol in mathematics
has evoked as much mystery, romanticism,
misconception and human interest as
the number pi”
William L. Schaaf
We here at Middle Tennessee Inspections love to celebrate Pi Day which is on March 14th (3/14). As engineers and techs we love math! And it’s a great excuse to eat pie!
Pi (often represented by the lower-case Greek letter π), is one of the most well-known mathematical constants. For any circle, the distance around the edge is a little more than three times it’s diameter. This ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter is approximately 3.141592 represented as ‘pi’. That is about 22/7 ths.
Pi has been calculated to over 50 trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to remember, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.
In 1988, the earliest known official or large-scale celebration of Pi Day was organized by Larry Shaw at the San Francisco Exploratorium, where Shaw worked as a physicist, with staff and public marching around one of its circular spaces, then consuming fruit pies. They still hold annual Pi Day celebrations every year. In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution recognizing March 14 as National Pi Day. In 2010, Google presented a Google Doodle celebrating the holiday, with the word Google laid over images of circles and pi symbols; and for the 30th anniversary in 2018, it was a Dominique Ansel pie with the circumference divided by its diameter.
The entire month of March 2014 (3/14) is observed by some as “Pi Month”. In the year 2015, March 14 was celebrated as “Super Pi Day”. Since it had special significance that the date is written as 3/14/15 in month/day/year format. At 9:26:53, the date and time together represented the first 10 digits of π, and later that second Pi Instant represented all of π’s digits. Pure awesomeness.
There are many ways to celebrate Pi Day, including eating pie, throwing pies, and discussing the significance of the number. Pi Day is celebrated every year on March 14th, and is named after a pun based on the words “pi” and “pie” being homophones in English and the coincidental circular shape of many pies. In addition, some schools hold competitions to see which student can recall pi to the greatest number of decimal places with the greatest accuracy.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has traditionally mailed its application decision letters to prospective students on Pi Day, so that they arrive in time for the celebration. MIT has announced that, beginning in 2012, it will post those decisions (in private) online on Pi Day at exactly 6:28 p.m., which they have dubbed “Tau Time,” to honor the rival numbers pi and tau equally. In 2015, regular decisions were made available online at 9:26 a.m., which coincided with the year’s “pi minute,” and in 2020, regular decisions were made available online at 1:59 p.m., which coincided with the first six digits of pi. Engineers enjoy having a good time.
The 28th of June is “Two Pi Day,” which is also known as “Tau Day.” 2 is a common multiple in mathematical formulas, and it is denoted by the Greek letter tau in this case. There has been some debate as to whether is the more fundamental constant and whether Tau Day should be observed instead. To commemorate this occasion, some people joke about eating “twice the pie.”
The town of Princeton, New Jersey, where Albert Einstein lived and taught for twenty years, is hosting a variety of events to commemorate Pi Day and Einstein. His birthday also falls on March 14. Einstein worked at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton for more than twenty years during which time he resided in the city. In addition to pie-eating and recitation competitions, there is an annual Einstein look-alike contest that takes place.
Before you eat that celebratory ‘we-just-bought-a-new-house’ pie (be it homemade or McDonalds) give the ‘math wizs’ at Middle Tennessee Inspections a call to make sure your prospective home will still be safe and wonderful for many more Pi days!