March 14 is a great day to be a geek. That’s because it’s Pi Day, the one day of the year when it’s super cool to be a math wiz. As reported by CNN on Friday, students, parents and teachers across America are joining forces in 2014 to celebrate pi, which is defined as the distance or circumference around a perfect circle, divided by the distance around it, or the diameter. In layman’s terms, pi is approximately 3.14 (but the number actually goes to infinity). In Atlanta, students and teachers are celebrating Pi Day with pizza and dessert parties involving – you guessed it – pies of all varieties and fun facts about pi. At Northview High School in Johns Creek, several geometry classes are skipping lunch today to party the time away in their classrooms to celebrate the mystery and imperfection of pi.
The year 2014 marks the 26th anniversary of National Pi Day. It began in 1988 when physicist Larry Shaw invited people to eat pie while walking around in circles at the San Francisco Exploratorium science museum. In the last quarter of a decade, Pi Day has grown in popularity and is now an international, math-focused celebration. In fact, Pi Day has gone social and even has its own Facebook page with more than 18,000 followers. One post from March 14 shows Barack Obama eating pie with students and is captioned with “The White House says ‘Happy Pi Day.’” In 2009, the House of Representatives declared March 14 as National Pi Day.
“The Huffington Post” noted on Friday that the number pi “is the only mathematical topic from early history that is still being researched today.” It dates back to the Babylonians and Egyptians and to this day, captures the fascination of mathematicians across the globe.
Pi is often referred to in pop culture. In the Oscar-winning movie, “Life of Pi,” the main character, Piscine “Pi” Molitor, writes hundreds of digits of the decimal expansion of pi. In a classic “Star Trek” episode, Dr. Spock tried to calculate pi to save the USS Enterprise. In “Twilight,” Edward recited the square root of pie while sharing a romantic candlelit dinner with Bella. Head to this YouTube link to see how “Twilight” celebrated the mystery of pi.
If you’d like to celebrate the holiday with your own children, here are ten Fun Facts about Pi Day:
- A perfect Pi Day will occur on 3/14/15. The next instance of pi perfect won’t happen again until the year 2115.
- Albert Einstein was born on 3/14, Pi Day.
- People celebrate Pi Day with pies and pizza pies because they are round and sound like “pi.”
- The San Francisco Exploratorium celebrates Pi Day with a parade, fireworks, cheerleaders, music and dancing.
- Princeton, NJ, where Albert Einstein spent the last 22 years of his life, celebrates Pi Day with daylong activities including a walking tour of Einstein’s neighborhood and a pizza pie-making contest.
- Piday.org is a website that celebrates pi with games, puzzles, songs, and even t-shirts for math geeks.
- Some people also celebrate July 22 as Pi Day because 2/27 is a common approximation to pi.
- The value of pi has been calculated to more than two trillion decimal places.
- The world record for memorizing the value of pi was set in 2005 by Chao Lu of China. He correctly recited from memory its first 67,890 digits.
- If you write “3.14” on a piece of paper and hold it up to a mirror, it looks like the word “PIE”.
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