Posted on | March 14, 2011 | No Comments
You had the weird feeling you were going around in circles all day? You felt slightly irrational? You were not alone, but blame the calendar! Today was Pi Day, in honour of the famous mathematical constant.
In order to freshen up your high school knowledge, Pi is the result of the division of a circle’s circumference by its diameter. The operation always yields the same result, an irrational number beginning by 3.14… Hence the celebration on March 14.
Oddly enough, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of logical ordering in the decimals of pi, which makes it one of the oldest mathematical problems known to mankind. The first guesses harken back to ancient Egyptians, in around 2000 BC. Computer sciences now allow us to list up to 5 trillion decimals.
There is a strong feeling of humility gained in the contemplation of this number, remembering that in nearly 4,000 years we are still unable to figure out what makes a circle what it is. That such a banal, apparently insignificant little thing may still trouble us to such depth today is marvellous. Enjoy the moment, appreciate the irony, and do not hesitate to end your day with an irrational gesture to better commemorate this holiday!