March 14 – Pi Day

Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (the Greek letter pi), the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi Day is celebrated around the world – usually with edible pie – on March 14th since Pi = 3.1415926535…

pi-day-2011-2d9be35

As Smithsonian Magazine observes:

“A fascination and interest in circles predates recorded history. . . . Because of their symmetry, circles were seen as representations of the ‘divine’ and ‘natural balance’ in ancient Greece. Later on, the shape would become a vital foundation for the wheel and other simple machines.”

Circles also became the basis for a wide range of important historical structures, including temples, amphitheaters, and government buildings.

Chausath Yogini Temple, an 11th-century temple located in Morena district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Pi is an infinite number (i.e., having no limits or boundaries in time or space or extent or magnitude) but is often rounded to 3.14 or 3.142. As the ListVerse website points out:

“The value of pi has puzzled and interested humans since at least 1900 BC, when ancient Babylonians calculated it to be 3.125, whereas ancient Egyptians estimated it to be 3.16. Archimedes of Syracuse is believed to be the first person to accurately calculate the value of pi. He calculated it to be a number between 3.1408 and 3.14285.

In 1874, William Shanks calculated pi to 707 digits, although he was only correct until the 527th digit. In 1945, D.F. Ferguson calculated it to 620 digits, and by 1947, he had calculated it to 710 digits. In 1999, Takahashi Kanada calculated pi to 206,158,430,000 digits, and in 2011, Shigeru Kondo calculated it to ten trillion digits.”

How to celebrate? By baking a pie of course! Theoretically, it should be in the usual “pie” shape of a circle, but creative people might want to try this recipe (the outcome for which is shown below) for a π-shaped pie shown at the “Instructables” website. Detailed instructions with visual aids for making the pie into this shape are also included. (Beware: you may get distracted at this website; it has lots of unique and delicious-looking recipes. Put the word recipe in the search box.)

Happy 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939… Day!

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