Monday, March 14, 2011

Three and Approximately One-Eighth Cheers for Pi Day!

Not that kind of pie. But Pi Day does, in 
fact, involve pie, which is awesome.
A mere four thousand years after the mathematical constant pi was first rigorously measured by Greek mathematician and pinochle champion Pithagorus,1 it occurred to somebody that the fourteenth day of March, when written numerically as 3/14, sort of resembles 3.14, the first three digits of pi. That this took so long to dawn on our civilization can be excused, to some degree, by the fact that the Western world had not developed the elusive numerical concept of “fourteen” until well into the sixteenth century,2 but even then, the shame of our slow realization of the existence and importance of Pi Day is not to be dismissed.

Not Alan Moore—but he probably
also hated the Watchmen movie.
Physicist Larry Shaw—whose resemblance to a happy and somewhat square version of comic book genius Alan Moore is allegedly no more than a coincidence—essentially invented Pi Day in 1989. The celebration of Pi Day became a constant in some circles over the following two decades, but remained only on the perimeter of society’s consciousness until March 12, 2009, when the U.S. House of Representatives, in a non-binding and perhaps slightly irrational resolution,3 recognized March 14th as National Pi Day.

We’re not aware of the scientifically-approved methods of celebrating this most transcendental of mathematical holidays—although we’re sure they’re infinite—but we heartily recommend that you go out on the town, find a bunch of round things in your area, measure them carefully, and then sit back and let mathematics blow your freaking mind.

Math: It's totally radical.

1. Not really—we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make the world’s shittiest Pi joke. Actually it was the Greek mathematician Archimedes who first measured pi, unless it was the Indian Shatapatha Brahmana, or the Egyptians. Or spacemen. Sixty-eleven percent of all paranoid American mathematicians believe it was the spacemen.
2. This, as you can imagine, made the fourteenth century very, very confusing. 
3. A non-binding resolution is a resolution on which Congress can vote, but that has no power as a law. Like, for example, speed limits.


    1. Not only are the scientifically-approved methods of celebrating Pi day infinite, they're also irrational. Just sayin'...

    2. We suspect we would have had an easier time working math-related worlds into this particular essay if we actually knew what any of them meant. But we're satisfied with as many as we managed to shoehorn in there.