What do these Iconic Figures have in common?
It ain’t Friday... it’s Pi Day.
March 14, rendered 3.14 in the style of American English, makes one think of the mathematical constant pi (π), the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. At least, if one is inclined to think that way.
Pi, as a number, is both irrational and transcendental: It is a real number that cannot be expressed as the ratio of two integers, and it is non-algebraic - i.e., it is not the root of a non-constant polynomial equation with rational coefficients. When written as a decimal, it is infinite and non-repeating. Thanks to computers, we now know the value of pi to over one trillion significant digits... although if you ask me, most of those digits are pretty damned insignificant... unless perhaps if you’re trying to calculate the area or circumference of a really big circle.
[Pie, as a food, is not irrational at all - and it can be transcendent. More about that later.]
Pi Day was created in 1988 by one Larry Shaw, a physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium, demonstrating that Shaw is both a remarkably inventive individual and an über-nerd. There are various observances of the day, but I found it especially fascinating that, according to Wikipedia, the town of Princeton, New Jersey celebrates Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday (also March 14) jointly, no doubt owing to Einstein having lived there for over twenty years while working at the Institute for Advanced Study.
It is entirely appropriate to celebrate the day by eating - what else? - pie. Cherry, boysenberry, chocolate, coconut custard, steak and kidney, lemon meringue, Key lime, pizza... no matter. Use your imagination. Whether you choose to mumble incomprehensible mathematical calculations whilst doing so is completely up to you.
And just for shits ’n’ grins, here’s a link to one of my favorite pie-related 100-word stories. Enjoy.