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My personal (but public) notes about my homebrewing, knitting and other random stuff

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Happy Pi Day!

I don't know whether it's officially celebrated at all, but I always think of today as pi day. That's pi as in π, the Greek letter, or more specifically the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, rather than pie as in what you eat. Although, it must be said that my main way of celebrating pi day is to eat at least one pie. Today it was steak and kidney, for dinner, and I also had a slice of lemon torte (sort of lemon meringue pie sans meringue) at a friend's house this evening.

Anyway, back to π. It has a numerical value of roughly 22/7 or 3.14159.... I can't actually remember any more decimal places, although to be honest five is plenty for most hand calculations. Even with a powerful computer program you'd probably never need more than twenty for the most accurate of calculations. Still, if people want to spend their time calculating π to billions of decimal places that's fine by me. They will, of course, never be able to calculate it completely since it is an irrational number - or more specifically a transcendental one (it doesn't appear as the root of any algebraic equation, if I remember the definition correctly).

That's enough going back to my mathematical roots (algebraic or otherwise) for now. More knitting to follow soon.

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Update: I've just checked out the Technorati tag for pi and discovered that pi day is indeed widely celebrated, if not official. Also, if you're wondering why today is pi day, notice that in the American system of writing dates (which I think in general is far less logical than either the ISO or British systems as there's no clear progression from larger to smaller time units or vice versa as with the others), 14th March is written numerically as 3/14, or 3.14 if you use a dot separator. QED.
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