Archimedes of Syracuse Pi Day

Celebrating Pi

Pi (π) has been known for almost 4000 years. I learned today that we owe our gratitude to Archimedes of Syracuse (287–212 BC), as being the first to introduce the calculation. Without doubt, Archimedes of Syracuse was the greatest mathematician of the ancient world.

According to the Math is Fun website, Pi is defined as “the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. In other words: all the way around a circle divided by all the way across it.The symbol is π. No matter how large or small the circle, its circumference is always π times its diameter.”

There is another definition from Michael Emerson as Harold Finch, in the TV Series “Person of Interest” that brings out the humanity held within the numbers.

Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, and this is just the beginning; it keeps on going, forever, without ever repeating. Which means that contained within this string of decimals, is every single other number.

Your birthdate, combination to your locker, your social security number, it’s all in there, somewhere. And if you convert these decimals into letters, you would have every word that ever existed in every possible combination; the first syllable you spoke as a baby, the name of your latest crush, your entire life story from beginning to end, everything we ever say or do; all of the world’s infinite possibilities rest within this one simple circle.

Now what you do with that information; what it’s good for, well that would be up to you.”

Happy Pi Day! May we embrace the infinite possibilities that are held within Pi (π).

By Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

59 replies on “Celebrating Pi”

My sons celebrate Pi day at their school and both are fascinated by this sort of information and formula. Personally, while I appreciate maths and its benefits, and am quite good at it, I was never sufficiently interested to explore beyond the usages to the formulae I was provided with at school. I didn’t go straight to university from school for various reasons so when I started my degree the maths syllabus had been changed (mine was the last year of the old syllabus). I had to catch up the entire new syllabus in 6 weeks at the beginning of the year before I started my stats course.

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WOW! That was an amazing feat, Robbie. I confess being afraid of taking a stats course after hearing from others that it was difficult. And it was! But what an amazing experience – it changed the way I negotiated decision making and research projects. Statistics provide an excellent structure to understand a subject much more deeply, eliminating bias. While I am not an expert by any means, I appreciate the excellent work being accomplished by others in the field of medicine, business, creative endeavours, etc using statistical methodologies.

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Wow! I love the quote from ‘Person of Interest’. I loved the show too before I lost the thread and it seemed to become ever more convoluted. But I’ll remember ‘Harold’s’ words. Thank you.

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I was thinking the same thing, Jennifer. Alas, Caesar should never have crossed the Rubicon. I love these lines – dramatic and fraught with danger……

Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Beware the ides of March.

What man is that?

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Julius Caesar Act 1, Scene 2

And then Et tu, Brutus. Shakespeare knew how to keep an audience entranced. I try to imagine him as a modern day blogger!!! What fun that would be to follow him.

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Thank you for joining me in celebrating Pi, Peter. I was in awe of my math teachers. They were able to see numbers as a language that I simply could not understand until much later. Galileo Galilei had the right idea: “If I were again beginning my studies, I would follow the advice of Plato and start with mathematics.”

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I agree, Graham – e-day. February 7th would be the perfect day as the first few digits are: 2.7182818284590452353602874713527 and so on….. Euler’s number e is one of the most important numbers in mathematics and one that is used often. Thank goodness for calculators – the equation is complex!!! (1 + 1/100000)100000.

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Just think of it, Rebecca. Pi just waiting to be discovered from creation forward. I do remember the infinity aspect and also A=πr squared which is also quite marvelous. The area of anything circular in the universe can be determined by that bit of geometry, one of the few things I remember from class. The metaphysical aspects of geometry thrilled me much more than the practical stuff. 🙂

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“Just waiting to be discovered….”. Oh, Mary Jo, how many more things are waiting patiently for our arrival. In a recent conversation with someone who had just completed a masters that involved mathematics, I asked if he would pursue further studies in this area. It is a big decision he said, because the next step was not just to understand the math, but to create new thoughts on math. Think of the Nash equilibrium, named after the mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. and written about in “A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar. Math and geometry are all around us, and yet I see only a few steps into this area of study. Sending hugs!

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Maths is fun I enjoyed your post :). My oldest brother took a Masters in Mathematics at Warwick and went to the next level with an actuarial fellowship if I hadn’t been more interested in the creative arts I would have taken a Maths or Chemistry degree.

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I understand that Maths and creative endeavour are closely linked. We have so many paths from which to choose. I am glad that you decided that music and the creative arts would be your life, Charlotte. We have all benefited from your chosen path.

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Until this moment, Rebecca, I had not realized who was the greatest mathematician of the ancient world. I recall learning about Pi in elementary school and I had a wonderful Math (Arithmetic) teacher at the time. The ‘other’ definition caused my head to spin in a good way. I had never thought about Pi this way. My initial thought……I greatly appreciate the concept of “infinite possibilities.” A fun and fascinating post, Rebecca!

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Thank you, Erica for adding to this conversation. The concept of “infinite possibilities” is something that I have considered over the years. We have limited time – our experience is finite and moving forward in a steady and predictable timeline. And yet, we have the understanding of the infinite and grasp the concepts of time travel and forever more…. Perhaps that is why we create because within creativity there is a possibility of immortality.

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OH, now this is just simply fascinating!
Thank you for the history, and the words of Michael Emerson.
Rebecca, you always dig up the best info.
Yet, as time has passed, I grow more interested in “pie”, than Pi.
I thawed out one of my homemade pies today. It’s apricot.
I spend a lot of time baking pies.
Can’t bake a cake, torte, merengue, bread, Pi or many other exquisite delights.
I can, however, bake pies.
Sending big Pi Pie hugs out to the west coast!

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Pies using the sugar of fruits, rather than adding lots of extra sugar, are so delicious. Math and numbers are embedded in our daily experience. For example, telephone numbers. Did you know that in mathematics, “the telephone numbers (aka involution numbers) are a sequence of integers that count the ways n telephone lines can be connected to each other, where each line can be connected to at most one other line.” I did NOT know this. And this article goes on to tell me that these numbers were studied in 1800. I did NOT know this either, But here is what I know – you used many apricots in you homemade pie. And I would love to drop by your home right now for tea and pie. Sending hugs!!!

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