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I’m Not Celebrating Pi Day This Year

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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A variety of pies celebrating the number pi. Source: flickr/djwtwo.

On the one hand, I like Pi Day because I get to eat pizza and/or pie, and I like things that get people excited about math, but on the other hand, I’m an adult, and I get to eat pizza and/or pie whenever I want, Pi Day or no. Like Matt at Math Goes Pop, I don’t think Pi Day activities are generally mathematically helpful or interesting. Maybe I’m just jealous because I can only remember 8 digits of π (which, I’d like to point out, is well more than enough for anything I’ll ever need to do with it), but I think digit recitation contests are stupid. I like drawing circles as much as the next math geek, but I’ve never seen any Pi Day circle activities that struck me as special.

So instead of making a new contribution to the field of Pi Day posts, here’s a round-up of nice internet Pi Day stuff I’ve seen so far.

All Squared, Number 3: As Easy As… by the nice British math (or as they say, maths) blog The Aperiodical. They have a Pi Day podcast and a bunch of links to other Pi Day posts, including π in base-(the 1000 most common words in the English language).

The Mathematical Association of America Pi Day page has more links, a video of the Pi/e debates, and a gallery of Pi Day pies, to which you can contribute your own photos if you so desire.

How Much Pi Do You Need? My post from last summer about July 22, or 22/7, an alternative π celebration day.

Five Posts on Computing Pi, including a really cool infinite product involving the square root of 2, on John D. Cook’s blog The Endeavour.

Medieval Insights into the Irrationality of Pi by Samuel Arbesman at Wired has an interesting history lesson, complete with a Medieval manuscript in Hebrew.

Happy Pi Day! by Anna Giangregorio includes a list of alternative Pi Day celebration dates, including December 21, the 355th day of the year, at 1:13, commemorating the fraction 355/113, an even better approximation of π than 3.14 or 22/7.

A Pi Day Mystery by Ihor Charishak at CLIME Connections. Maybe those Pi Day activities aren’t so pointless after all. This one looks pretty cool.

Why I Hate Pi Day by Marshall Thompson at MT|SM. He’s cool, darnit, and he doesn’t want any stupid Pi Day celebrations making math teachers look nerdy!

The videos, oh, the videos! Vi Hart sent us a Singing Pi Gram by converting the decimal digits of π to notes of the scale, and she made some Pi Day videos in years past as well. Numberphile calculated π using real pies, and they have an entire π playlist for our viewing pleasure.

Pi Day has gotten popular enough that marketers are trying to figure out how to capitalize on it. King Arthur Flour is running a Pi Day special ($3.14 shipping on your $31.41 order). (Via Mr. Chase Math.) Check to see if your local pizza joint or bakery is having a sale too.

Yesterday the American Mathematical Society Twitter account started the #pimoviepitches hashtag, which is pretty fun. My contribution is “Pi Club: An insomniac high schooler finds relief in geometry class but is dragged into a violent underground math society.”

And finally, Dinosaur Comics takes on Pi Day.

Now a confession. I am celebrating Pi Day this year. But only because I like parties and baking. The Association for Women in Mathematics chapter at the local university is having a Pi Day game night tonight, and I baked a pie. It’s cranberry-apple, and it’s going to be amazing.

An apple-cranberry pie for Pi Day. Because peer pressure. Picture (and pie) by me.

Evelyn Lamb About the Author: Evelyn Lamb is a postdoc at the University of Utah. She writes about mathematics and other cool stuff. Follow on Twitter @evelynjlamb.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Anomalocaris 4:05 pm 03/15/2013

    Actually this is my first year at all I’m ilnolved in this Pi fascination. I had never hear about the Pi Day on any day at all. But it is quiet interesting to know some people take a few moments to stop whatever they’re doing, look around and see if there is another one like him/her: pursuing clues to better understanding the Universe.

    Link to this
  2. 2. bucketofsquid 5:58 pm 03/15/2013

    Tau day is better. Long live 6.28!

    Link to this
  3. 3. CharlieinNeedham 6:17 pm 03/15/2013

    I apologize for being late, but …

    HAPPY PI DAY TO ALL!!!

    Link to this
  4. 4. M Tucker 6:49 pm 03/20/2013

    Post Pi Day comments.

    I always enjoy Pi Day although my celebrations are usually just me and my son.

    Things I like best about Pi Day:

    PIE! I always enjoy an excuse to eat pie.
    It is an excellent way for me to remember Einstein’s birthday. So I have more to talk about with my son besides Pi.
    My favorite subatomic particle is the pi meson, aka pion. More stuff to bore my son with!
    Finally, I enjoy reading about the various ways to calculate pi and the history articles I usually find online every March 14th.

    Happy belated Pi Day!

    Link to this

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