Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Day in the Life of Pi

Happy Pi Day! It's March 14th so therefore it's 3/14 or 3.14 which of course is pi. Pi (3.14159265359....), as New York Daily News wonderfully describes it, is a "useful, yet irrational number that has a transcendental pull on thousands of math nerds around the world." You probably remember pi from your geometry class where you used it to calculate the ratio of a circle's circumference to it's diameter.

Pi's intrigue for centuries has been the challenge of truly defining it, a quest that started in Ancient Egypt. It was Archimedes in Ancient Greece who first came close with his Pythagorean Theorem who found pi to be between 3 1/7 and 3 10/71. And mathematicians are still working to find all the digits in the seemingly infinite number. In 2010, it was calculated all the way to 2.7 trillion digits. And this number is filled with geeky coolness. For example, if you hold a mirror to 3.14 it spells PIE! 

Now, how does one celebrate Pi Day? Well, you can take the Pi Day Challenge, created by former math teacher Matthew Plummer, which is described on it's website as "a series of puzzles that are logic based. A team of logicians adapted or created these puzzles-some require some research, some require mathematics, some require pure savvy. Well, I know how I will be wasting my time today. There are also pi-arty events you can go to like at New York's Michael Albert Gallery where they are serving pi-themed pastries, pi reciting contests (the current champ of this can recite 12,887 digits of pi), and art collage exhibit. Or, of course, you could just make and eat pie. 

Speaking of pi vs. pie: Last Halloween, I was on my way home from a long day in a Pi-rate (haha) costume hosting a live Cash Cube game show at a casino when I called home to my roommate to see what was happening. He said he'd been busy making pumpkin pie. I got so excited. The rest of the way home, all I could think about was having a big slice of warm pie. But alas, I got home and found him sitting in the glow of his freshly carved pumpkin.

What a geek.
Anyway, all this talk about pi has made me hungry. But it also, as I am sure it has for many of you, probably brought back lots of anxiety from high school math class. The mere thought of revisiting high school math tests is enough to make you want to pop a Xanex. And yet, there's an app for that! Because there's nothing like math in the morning.

The "FreakyAlarm" app which costs $1.99 rouses tired users out of bed with its "evil setting" by making them solve complicated math equations or logic puzzles before the loud tone shuts off. What a freaking nightmare. Not only do you have to cope with being wakened from your sweet slumber, you now have to solve a math problem which you may not even be able to solve when fully alert, and all this happens while you are under duress of an obnoxious, loud tone? This sounds like the least peaceful way to wake up. Ever. It would be like diffusing a bomb while a fire alarm is going off and you are under the influence of sleeping pills. Not exactly what you want first thing in the morning before you've  even had your coffee. I would probably literally end up just throwing my phone out the window. But this app, ridiculous and stress inducing as it is, does seem fitting for Pi Day. 
So go forth and find pi today or avoid pi and just binge on pie. Either way, things will come full circle.

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