I thought I knew the value of pi. This thing . 3.14. Or if I really want to let my nerd show and impress my partner with useless knowledge: 3.141592653. (I say impress, she says annoy.) However, in doing research for this infamous pi day, I realize the universe is massive and I know nothing.

This particular pi day is numerically “special” as 9:26 (and 53 seconds) on March 14, 2015 otherwise written 3/14/15 9:26:53 matches precisely to the first 10 digits of pi.

As I began to expound about pi, serious dilemmas presented themselves quickly:

- I can’t schedule a post to hit the web at a precise second, do I schedule this to post at 9:26 or round the 53 seconds up to 9:27?
- AM or PM, or both, or any given moment of the day? After all, it is 3/14/15 9:26 somewhere.
- Or do I choose 6:26 am to catch the East Coast of the US?
- Unlike Kim Kardashian’s assets, will pi Day actually break the internet and it won’t matter what time I actually scheduled this post for?
- Do I even know how to calculate pi? Apparently people are still calculating pi into the trillions of digits. At just 3.14, I must be taking some shortcuts.
- What else don’t I know about pi?
- How many times will I need to mention Winnie Cooper, The Wonder Years, and Danica McKeller in conjunction with pi day for Google to index this page within a few minutes?

Since this post is simply for fun, I’ll skip to what is perhaps the most relevant and shocking reason pi still fascinates so many. Despite calculating the decimal places of pi into the trillions of digits, NO apparent pattern has ever been found and the strings of numbers have passed every statistical test for randomness thrown at it. With today’s computing power, finding ever more numbers of pi is no longer a grandiose challenge. The questions mathematicians are now seeking solutions reference large sequences of numbers in a seemingly random mass of more numbers. In other words, if a random sequence of 100 numbers were shown to you, are there sequences that exist within to positively identify that these 100 numbers are in fact from pi and not just any other random string of numbers?

While I can imagine instances where mathematics to this extreme precision are useful: bioinformatics, advanced computing, chaos theory, unraveling the mysteries of the universe… I failed to find a single real-world “useful” application or innovation that owes itself to the modern-day study of pi. Danica McKeller from The Wonder Years might argue with me here.

With that said, in honor and in humor of this great pi day, here are 10 interesting bits about pi:

- pi has been studied for roughly 4,000 years, and we are still calculating it.
- By 2000 B.C., Babylonians calculated pi as 3.125. [1]
- Ancient Egyptians found the value of pi to be 3 1/7, approximately 3.143. [2]
- In 1650 B.C., Ahmes, an Egyptian scribe, wrote the value of pi on a piece of papyrus that has amazingly survived to this day. Ahmes wrote “Cut off 1/9 of a diameter and construct a square upon the remainder; this has the same area as the circle,” approximating pi to be 3.16049. [3]
- Fast forward to modern times, Tsz-Wo Sze, calculated the two-quadrillionth digit of pi. While a Yahoo! employee, he utilized 1,000 Yahoo computers crunching numbers for 23 days to arrive at the digit. It is a zero. [4]
- The Guinness world record for reciting the digits of pi from memory is held by Chao Lu from China. In 2005, Lu took 24 hours, zero food, zero toilet breaks, recited 67,890 digits of pi. He practiced 4 years before attempting this record breaking achievement. [5]
- There’s a tool that allows anyone to search for sequences in pi (such as the digits of your birthday).
- Here are 2 of the most recent formulas to calculate pi:
- Below, Cristian Vasile has expressed pi as a connection from each digit of pi to its successive digit. This design is based on transition paths for the first 10,000 digits of pi.

*Credit: Cristian Vasile
*

- Perhaps the most useful outcome from studying pi in modern times comes from actress Danica McKeller (Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years). She has published videos and books in an effort to encourage young women to succeed in mathematics.

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