“Probably no symbol in mathematics has evoked as much mystery, romanticism, misconception and human interest as the number pi”
~William L. Schaaf, Nature and History of Pi
Pi, represented by Greek letter π is a mathematical constant given by the ratio of the circumference of the circle to its diameter. Wonder how can we see π geometrically? Geometrically, the circumference of the circle is a bit more than three times the diameter of the same circle. Clearly, pi the number of diameter lengths that fit in the circumference of the circle. Most Importantly, it has now more than 22 trillions decimal digits. But, it is not even close to ending.
Mathematically, π is given by 3.141592654 with never-ending numbers with no regular pattern and normally calculated as 3.14 or 22/7. Furthermore, it is closer to 355/113 and then to 104348/33215.
History of Pi.
Pi now is known for over 4000 years and we are still approximating its exact value. For the first time, Ancient Babylonians calculated the area if the circle by considering π value to be 3 but later brought it to a closer approximation of 3.125. The Rhind Papyrus, an Egyptian Mathematician gave another estimation for π to be 3.16. Archimedes gave a brighter look towards the value and obtained average value to be 3.1418. He also proved it to be the same ratio of the area of the circle to the square of the radius and constant.
After that, over centuries, Chinese, Greek, French, Indian, Arab mathematicians extended the number of decimal places through various methods. On 1999, a supercomputer at University of Tokyo calculated it to be 206,158,430,000 digits. Trillions of digits are calculated (22 trillions). We are not even close to the end. Who knows what the future holds for the future of magical number π?
Facts about π
The symbol π is used for more than 250 years. William Jonas, a Welsh Mathematician introduced the symbol for the first time in 1706. However, Leonhard Euler was the one who brought it to the world making it popular.
The digits of π
The digits of π till today is more than 22 trillion. A Swiss scientist calculated it in a computer with 24 hard drives and the program called y-cruncher.
The use of decimal part
The calculations have shown over 22 trillion digits of π. Do we really need them all? No! NASA used 15 decimals of pi to calculate the interplanetary trajectories. Further, 30 to 40 decimal of pi would easily give the observable size of the universe.
The pi day
The first three-digit of pi is 3.14 thus March 14 is celebrated as Pi Day around the globe. Math nerds around celebrate this infinitely long, never ending number. Besides you can also find your birthday in the digits of π. Oh yes! Check Here.
Some scientists are also related to the pi day. WOW. Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879. Stephen Hawking elapsed on March 15, 2018. Composer Johann Strauss, Actor Michael Caine and Billy Crystal, music producer Quincy Jonas and Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Bormann, Astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli also have their birthday on pi day.
Numbers in π
Don’t we find a sequence in the millions of digits of pi? No, Pi doesn’t have a repeating sequence. The first million decimal places consist of 99,959 zeros, 99,758 ones, 100,026 twos, 100,229 threes, 100,230 fours, 100,359 fives, 99,548 sixes, 99,800 sevens, 99,985 eights and 100,106 nines.
It is more fascinating to know that there is no occurrences of the sequence 123456 in the first million digits. However, 12345 has its occurrence for eight times and 012345 for two times.
The first six digits of π i.e, 314159 is seen at least six times in the first ten million decimal places of π.
A Feynman position exists at the 763rd position of the value where six nine’s appears in a row.
Pi in Movies, TV and Book
Guess What! There are several movies and books on the number π. Some include ‘Pi: Faith in Chaos’, ‘Tom Curtain’. In the Series ‘Star Trek’ in the episode ‘Wolf in the Fold.’ Isn’t it fascinating?
Likewise, the protagonist of Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel ‘Contract’ includes about π.
3.14 looks like pie backwards.
‘I prefer pi’ is a palindrome.
There are π haters as well. They prefer Tau Day, an alternative calculation to pi day.
Celebrating Pi day was started by Physicist Larry Shaw at San Francisco’s Exploratorium Science Museum. Thus, he is honored by the tag of ‘Prince of Pi’.
Above all, there is an entire language based on π, called “Pi-lish”. The numbers in letters of each word match the corresponding digit π. Michael Keith, a software engineer has written the book ‘Not a Wake’ in this language.
In the O.J Simpson Murder case, The FBI agent and the defense attorney’s argument revolved around the value of π.
Amazingly, Pi is much more beautiful when it is just not a symbol. The significance is not only in the circle. It takes us all way long to the depth of universe, patterns of the natural world, probability and more. And the number is still beyond imagination. Maybe this is why, it is the mysterious π.
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I am an Electrical Engineering Undergraduate at Kathmandu University, Nepal. I am also an executive board of Kathmandu Univerisity Robotics Club. I love robotics, technology, space, and energy.