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Pi Day

14 Mar 2019, 21:56 UTC
Pi Day
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Next week brings one of the more festive holidays of the year, honoring the principle patron saint of Ireland. This is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day and is held on March 17, in honor of the day St. Patrick is believed to have died. But there’s another holiday of sorts that has been building steam in recent years and is itself quite festive. Unlike other holidays commemorating people or events this one celebrates…a number. A mathematical constant, to be precise—the number originally defined as the ratio of a circle’s circumference, pi.
Pi is also known as Archimedes’ Constant, after the Greek mathematician who generated one of the early calculations for the number nearly 2,000 years ago. It is a ubiquitous figure applied in a wide variety of fields. Astronomers use it to calculate the sizes of planets or the trajectories of spacecraft, biologists use it to determine the structure of DNA, and even clockmakers use it in designing clock pendulums. Usually identified by its symbol π, it is an irrational number. This means it can’t be expressed as a ratio of two whole numbers and so contains an infinite number of digits when written as a decimal (3.1415926535…). It is ...

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