Today is National Pi Day, courtesy of House Resolution 224, passed earlier this week. (Get it? Today’s 3/14, like Pi, which is approximately 3.14.) As the Resolution notes, Pi is central to math, science, and engineering, fields “essential for a knowledge-based society.”
As a little kid, I used to pride myself on knowing Pi to 7 or 8 digits (the limits of my hand-held calculator). A minor accomplishment to be sure, but I’ve always loved math. Years later, I learned about real math geniuses such as Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught mathematician born in India in 1887. One online bio of Ramanujan notes:
During an illness in England, [Ramanujan's mentor, prominent mathematician G.H.] Hardy visited Ramanujan in the hospital. When Hardy remarked that he had taken taxi number 1729, a singularly unexceptional number, Ramanujan immediately responded that this number was actually quite remarkable: it is the smallest integer that can be represented in two ways by the sum of two cubes: 1729=13+123=93+103.
Ramanujan was an intuitive math genius, and died tragically young at 32. For a great read, check out Robert Kanigel’s book The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan. And Ramanujan was important regarding Pi. Though I have absolutely no understanding of the relevant math, PiDayInternational.org says Ramanujan did a lot of important work regarding Pi, discovering “new formulas for pi, remarkable for their elegance and inherent mathematical depth.” Later, “Ramanujan’s formulas became a foundation for calculating pi on handheld and personal computers – although supercomputers now use newer methods that go beyond it.”
Though the rest of us lack Ramanujan’s math genius, at least we can use modern technology (benefiting from Ramanujan’s work) to look up Pi to a million places online. See 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592.com.
Have a Happy Pi Day. I recommend celebrating by buying a good pie, either a Mineo’s Pizza or an Eat’n Park homemade strawberry pie. Before dining, measure the pie’s radius and use Pi to determine its area. That way, you’ll know if you have enough for everyone.
The text of House Resolution 224 is below the break: