MAR 14, 2015 9:21 AM PDT

How to observe Pi Day 2015

WRITTEN BY: Jennifer Ellis
Today is 3/14/15, which is a super-special Pi Day that comes around only once a century. (That is, if you ignore that 3/14/15 is only special using standard American date-writing conventions. But why not?) While traditionally, Pi Day is celebrated on 3/14 at 1:59, this year you can celebrate on 3/14/15 at 9:26.

What can you do to celebrate the greatest mathematical constant? A start would be to bake a pie in a "pi" pan.

Then, bust out the mnemonics and poetry! Let me remind everyone of my own contribution to pi: a mnemonic for 167 digits of pi, which I developed with some friends in the mid-'90s.

Many people know the common mnemonic: "How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after the tough lectures involving quantum mechanics." Count the number of letters in each word and stick a decimal point after the 3, and you get: 3.14159265358979, which is already more than you need for most purposes. The thirty-second digit after the decimal point is a zero, which in this mnemonic we represent by the end of a sentence. Here's 167 digits' worth:

How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after the tough lectures involving quantum mechanics; but we did estimate some digits by making very bad, not accurate, but so greatly efficient tools!

In quaintly valuable ways, a dedicated student - I, Volokh, Alexander - can determine beautiful and curious stuff, O!

Smart, gorgeous me!

Descartes himself knew wonderful ways that could ascertain it too!

Revered, glorious - a wicked dude!

Behold an unending number: pi!

Thinkers' ceaseless agonizing produces little, if anything!

For this constant, it stops not - just as e, I suppose.

Vainly, ancient geometers computed it - a task undoable.

Legendre, Adrien Marie: "I say pi rational is not!"

Adrien proved this theorem.

Therefore, all doubters have made errors.

(Everybody that's Greek.)

Today, counting is as bad a problem as years ago, maybe centuries even.

Moreover, I do consider that variable x, y, z, wouldn't much avail.

Is constant like i?

No, buffoon!

Note that the word "greatly" in the first sentence was originally "f**king", but this is (sometimes) a family blog.

This was written up in the March 18, 1996 issue of The Scientist magazine and was also mentioned in Ivars Peterson's Mathland from March 11, 1996. As a stocking stuffer, you might try David Blatner's The Joy of Pi (1997), which quotes me on the subject.

Antreas Hatzipolakis compiled a list of pi mnemonics in the late 1990s, and some other pi links are here. One of the best pi mnemonics, which gets up to 740 digits, is a retelling of Poe's The Raven; here's its first stanza:

Poe, E.
Near A Raven

Midnights so dreary, tired and weary.
Silently pondering volumes extolling all by-now obsolete lore.
During my rather long nap - the weirdest tap!
An ominous vibrating sound disturbing my chamber's antedoor.
"This", I whispered quietly, "I ignore".

This is actually the beginning of a super-long work called Cadaeic Cadenza by Mike Keith, which is itself a mnemonic for pi and seems to have about 4000-5000 words.

Of course, a classic, even if it doesn't cite me, is the very opinionated A History of Pi (1976), by the very opinionated Petr Beckmann. You can also listen to pi music here (NPR story here); a much more ambitious pi-related composition is here.

By Sasha Volokh
About the Author
MS
I love all things science and am passionate about bringing science to the public through writing. With an M.S. in Genetics and experience in cancer research, marketing and technical writing, it is a pleasure to share the latest trends and findings in science on LabRoots.
You May Also Like
MAR 09, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Changing Our Reliance on Fossil Fuels Amid Global Tensions
MAR 09, 2022
Changing Our Reliance on Fossil Fuels Amid Global Tensions
Oil companies are under fire for continuing to purchase and deliver Russian oil, funding Putin’s war. Governments ...
APR 01, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
Detecting Chemical Weapons with Flies
APR 01, 2022
Detecting Chemical Weapons with Flies
Forgot expensive mechanical detectors; the newest innovation in chemical weapons is blowflies. Students led by Nick Mani ...
APR 06, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Hubble Space Telescope Spots Farthest Star Ever Seen
APR 06, 2022
Hubble Space Telescope Spots Farthest Star Ever Seen
Since its launch and deployment by the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has made ove ...
APR 14, 2022
Space & Astronomy
NASA's Perseverance Rover Hears the Sounds of Mars
APR 14, 2022
NASA's Perseverance Rover Hears the Sounds of Mars
Who doesn’t like to zap things, even if only imaginary? Nearly everyone at some point in their life has yelled, &l ...
MAY 03, 2022
Technology
Solar beats nuclear at many potential settlement sites on Mars
MAY 03, 2022
Solar beats nuclear at many potential settlement sites on Mars
Two indisputable facts are apparent when it comes to space exploration: 1) We are sending humans to Mars, whether it&rsq ...
MAY 16, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
A Strange 'Black Widow' Pulsar Candidate in Our Galaxy
MAY 16, 2022
A Strange 'Black Widow' Pulsar Candidate in Our Galaxy
Pulsars are remnants of dead stars that die by the process of supernova explosion. These explosions often leave either a ...
Loading Comments...