Happy Pi Day!

For those of you less geeky than I, you may not have been aware of the fact that today, being 3/14, is Pi Day! I do know, however, that the chemistry dept. serves pie on pi day, so more are probably aware then otherwise would have been. Anyway, I couldn't let this opportunity pass by without sharing a few little known pieces of trivia about Pi.

This rather startling equation relates five of the most important numbers in science.
(i = the square root of -1, for the uninitiated)

Pi has been calculated out to 1,241,100,000,000 decimal digits as of Oct. 20, 2005.

I have used a program that I downloaded to compute PI to 10,000,000,000 places on one of the lab computers. This process took 501270.83 seconds, or ~139.24 hours, and produced a 13 gigabyte text file containing the digits. If I printed this many digits of pi out in Word (never mind that Word won't even open a file anywhere near that large), using 12 point Times New Roman font, it would take 126,582,278.5 pages! Even if I scaled the font down to a minuscule 2 points, it would take more than 23,148,148 pages! Only if I scaled it down to 1 point font would it take fewer than a million pages to print: 47,244.5 to be exact (1 point font is a LOT smaller than 2 point). Now realize that more than 100 times this many digits have been calculated!!!

Now, after the above statistics, you might be thinking that there must be some scientific use for many digits of pi. But no! A mere 39 decimal digits is sufficient to compute the circumference of any circle that fits in the Observable universe to a precision comparable to the size of a Hydrogen atom. [Wikipedia] People calculate digits of pi for the same reason people climb Mount Everest: Because it's there!

Pi can be calculated using the simple series: \pi = \frac{4}{1}-\frac{4}{3}+\frac{4}{5}-\frac{4}{7}+\frac{4}{9}-\frac{4}{11}\cdots\!
but be prepared to spend some time on it, since 300 terms of the above series are not sufficient to calculate Pi to 2 decimal places.

The current Guinness Book record for memorizing digits of pi is 67,890 digits, held by Lu Chao, a 24-year-old graduate student from China.

I am able to recite 100 digits. Ask me sometime if you want to hear them! :)

Thats all for now. You can read the wikipdeia article if you want more cool facts about Pi!

Happy Pi Day! :)

Oh, yeah. I will be posting a select few pictures from the orchestra tour soon.