Among my favourite books is The World in Six Songs, by Daniel Levitin. I loved it so much I wrote a series of blog posts in 2009 about a songs challenge I came up with, and even got to talk to the author about it! Recently, I heard about scientific book involving the number six, called Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe, by Martin Rees. This one didn’t interest me that much, with “deep forces” being beyond what I could fully understand, or at least be willing to commit the time to doing, seeing what those numbers were. Before I went to do that, though, I thought of the six numbers of “my universe”, as in a balance of the physical universe I knew and understood, as well as the emotional one that had the most meaning to me. I did it to see if I could hit at least one of those numbers in Just Six Numbers, to see if what I thought were the important numbers were truly as important as someone more knowledgeable of the “deep forces” of the universe deemed them to be. The results are below, but before you read on and maybe get influenced by my choices, try making a list of just six numbers in “your universe”, with “your universe” being whatever ways you want to define it.
Yes, I’m encouraging you to go buy some toilet paper.
But it’s for a good cause! Is that wrong?
Pi Day is observed on March 14th each year, when the month and day (3.14) make up the first 3 digits of the mathematical constant π (pi). Popular ways to celebrate Pi Day include eating pie and discussing the importance of the number. But you know what? That’s SO boring and, well, predictable… and especially ironic considering Pi is an irrational number. That means Pi’s decimals digits are never repeating or “predictable”, since if it did ever repeat, it would become predictable as you had seen the pattern before!
I propose something a helluva lot funner… and harder, to truly celebrate Pi Day and give it its dues. BE IRRATIONAL ALL DAY ON PI DAY!
And how does one go about being irrational?
Today, March 14 (when this was posted), is Pi Day. March 14th’s date is often written as 3-14, which contains the first three digits of π, so it is chosen as Pi Day. Coincidentally, but rather symbolically appropriate, it is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, and few other dates could be more appropriate in my opinion. That is unless you count Feb 7 as 2-7 and really approximate the natural logarithm e to a useless 2 digits. Geekier people can celebrate Pi Minute at 1:59 AM (24 hour clock only) or 1:59 PM (12 hour clock) on March 14, since 3.14159 is a longer extension of the Pi decimal. I would argue for something like 3:54:32 PM because on the 24 hour clock, 15.935 hours is that time, but that’s probably too geeky even for the mainstream Pi Day celebrators. Mind you, some of them celebrate Pi Second at precisely at 1:59:26 AM or PM on the 12 hour clock, with decimals of a second being really optional to any number of 5-3-5 tenths, hundredths or thousandths of a second. Too short to even let out a scream, though!
So far, I’ve written this article with only a link to π, as if you knew enough about it to get the rest of that first paragraph. You probably do, but in case you don’t, here’s a shortened plain language version.
If you divide the length of a ring by the straight line distance across that ring through the centre, you will always get π. The more precisely you could measure those distances, meaning like to some ridiculously small unit of measure and that you’ve got the correct measure of a perfect ring, the more precise a value of π you will get with more and more decimals. One beauty of π is that while it is always the same, its exact value will never be known because it is what is known as an irrational number, which’s decimals never repeat. You can see π to one million decimals here for yourself if you want to satisfy yourself (might be 100,000 when you find it pending traffic on the server)! Talk about a good way to impress your teacher! The University of Tokyo supposedly has π calculated out to 200 million digits, but that takes 4.2 GB to download so I’ll leave it at that. In being an irrational number, though, no fraction can represent π. It is sometimes approximated as a fraction of 22/7, but that is not correct. So thank goodness for symbolic representations, eh?
Pi has a lot of beauties to it, both within the number and without in relation to where it appears in the physical relationships of scientific phenomena. If you don’t believe there is a higher being of some sort, seeing the order of the universe involving π almost certainly will make you believe. If you’re still not convinced, I suggest researching the same thing for the natural logarithm e which is the base of all things as it occurs mathematically and naturally, unconstrained by cultures that count by 10, 2 (computers) or some other base. The previous link to π on Wikipedia will tell of many of the beauties of π, with additional links. The Pi Search Page also contains a load, including trivia, frequency of repeating patterns of digit strings, etc. Really geeky stuff on both links, but you know you’d love it so click on through to learn and appreciate!
So with all the amazingness of π to celebrate, how could one sufficiently acknowledge it all? Well, simple, because π is all about simplicity despite its complexity. That is actually a life philosophy of mine, that the simplest things aren’t actually simple. They are only made that way by all the complex details behind it so you had better be prepared to be overwhelmed if you’re going to study or tackle the simplicity of anything, rather than thinking it’s going to be easy!
Geekier folks will add discussing the importance, relevance, properties or other matters involving Pi. I’m coming close with blogging since that isn’t truly a “discussion”. But by discussing Pi, I mean Pi without an e, over Pie with an e, but I’ll take discussing Pi with an e over Pi with an e as well.
In this unhealthy age, walking around something would be good, if only to burn off the pie. Striving for a close to perfect circle as your walking path would be outgeeking yourself.
With Daylight Standard Time having gotten switched at 2 AM this morning, in places that switch, it was a momentous way to celebrate Pi Minute by altering time the minute after. Too bad it doesn’t occur every year!
I am posting this at 1:59 PM my local time as a second Pi Minute celebration. Am I geeky or what, eh???
I’m one hour short with the “spring ahead” clock change, so I’m going to metaphorically be running around all day. If you’re not familiar with English expressions, “running around all day” means keeping busy or doing all kinds of things, whether that is work, chores or someone else. Um, if you’re not familiar with English expressions, you can research that last one. I couldn’t help it with my sense of humour after all the geeky humour leading up to it.
My metaphorical running around all day will literally include a circular 12K running route that isn’t that circular in shape, but goes around part of the peninsula on which I live to end up where I started and close it off. The route will also go around several landmarks.
How will you celebrate Pi Day?
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 9.7