The ancient Greeks and the fascinating circle will celebrate a great achievement in the scientific field: on March 14, 2015, the California Academy of Sciences will be opening its gates four minutes early on Saturday.
Instead of the regular 9:30am, the Academy decided on 9:26am just for one day. And the simple reason is a great matching in the stars: on this day, pi, the ancient ratio between the diameter and the circumference of a circle, fits perfectly with the date and that specific hour: 3.1415926 and so on.
Happy Super Pi Day! Why super? Because Pi Day, which is celebrated each year on March 14 (3-14, get it?), has now an extra touch, as the next two digits forming the date (3-14-15) are also the next two digits of pi. Fun facts like these keep scientists around the world rather excited. And we’d be lying if we said it didn’t make us, too.
Eating pie and celebrating
Various institutions have prepared celebratory programs for this special day, so you can have your pick, if you’re around. After opening four minutes early especially for this occasion, the California Academy of Sciences will play a game of Popsicle sticks where astronomers and visitors alike can join.
The game uses sticks to design the mathematical formula for pi. If you’re confused about how that might look, you might just pop out and contribute with a few sticks yourself, as academy insiders recommend.
If dropping Popsicle sticks is not exactly your cup of tea, you can join other astronomers at the Golden Gate Park academy for a fascinating “Pi in the Sky” lecture. The scientists will talk about the way Pi works billions of light-years from Earth and can be found in the volume of planets outside our solar system. Captivating, right?
And if you turn approximately 3.14 miles to the east, the Exploratorium is prepared to charm the pi out of you by making admission free, all Pi Day long. The science museum is definitely competing with the pi-tricks of the Academy, because they did some math as well and came up with a fun way to celebrate the day: first 58 people who will be in line to enter the museum at 9:26:53 am are set to receive a free piece of pie. If you’re wondering why precisely 58, pi is to blame again: 3.14159265358.
And if you miss out on the pie, Exploratorium offers a lot of fun activities throughout the day, and you can have your pick. You can watch the first million digits through a microscope or drop toothpicks on a lined surface and calculate pi by counting how many toothpicks fall across the lines.
The museum also offers a delicious show where pizza chefs demonstrate how to make a perfect circle for the pizza crust. And after you’ve delighted your eyes (and maybe mouths) with the pizza show, Exploratorium will organize a Pi Parade, where 400 visitors will march with picket signs marked with different digits of pi. The Pi Parade will take place around the museum, with the first person holding the “3” and the second one the “.”
Even though the only thing pi and pie have in common is their pronunciation, that is enough for a lot of people to want pie on Pi Day. So many, in fact, that the Mission Pie bakery located at Mission and 25th streets in San Francisco did not take any more pie orders after Wednesday – almost 3.14 days before Pi Day came upon us. And pie lovers also sold out the bakery’s pies on Pi Day Eve, which you guessed right, was celebrated on Friday.
Despite the deliciousness of pie, math Professor Edward Frenkel teaching at the University of California at Berkeley says that pi is not considered as delightful by a lot of middle school pupils who haven’t found yet the beauty of it. He himself is fascinated by the universality of pi, which he says “transcends time and space” because it means the same for everyone in the world.
Frenkel added that pi doesn’t stop at circles, it can also be found in trigonometry and different math formulas. Pi is also one of the things mathematicians take great pride in, because of its infinite characteristic; a circle has not beginning or end, so it goes on forever.
The farthest mathematicians got is 13.3 trillion digits, but even that’s not pi, it’s just a really long approximation. Pi fans are fascinated by the beautiful randomness of the number; for example, after the 762nd decimal place, you can find six 9s in a row. How cool and random is that?
Jefferson Elementary School in San Francisco also had a small celebration in honor of Pi Day on Friday. Students from the fourth-grade gathered on the playground in order to verify if the Greeks were not wrong about their approximation. In a fun activity, the circumference of the court was walked heel-to-toe to make sure that the number of steps was exactly 3.14 times more than steps walked across its middle.
They found out that 3.14 is exactly right. Celebrating the experiment and the Pi Day Eve, parents brought 9 pies that were split to 34, resulting exactly 0.333 … of a pie per student. This is another number that goes on forever, and another fascinating mathematical issue. But not as fascinating as it was to eat pie, we’re sure!
Image Source: Dish Maps
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