Childish Nonsense

Exploring Children's Literature

Pi, Anyone?

on March 13, 2015

piSorry if you’re sick and tired of hearing about Pi Day, but it’s a big deal to me. Once a century, the 14th of March also includes the other base ten digits that represent the transcendental number pi. 3.14159265…

Mathematicians have been chasing the value of pi for at least 4,500 years. In the 1700s, a guy named Euler suggested they give up and just use the symbol π. Not a group to give up, mathematicians Wrench and Smith reportedly calculated π to 1,120 digits using a desk calculator in 1949. Now, it’s a tradition to devote thousands of hours on super computers to set the record for the number of digits.

People who learn calculus quickly learn to use the symbol, since pi is a central feature of calculus. It’s a very important number. Other transcendental numbers are also important but don’t get the publicity pi does. Plus, there is no 71st day of February on which we can celebrate the number e. So, why not pay homage to π?

Another aspect that escapes the notice of most people is that Albert Einstein was born on Pi Day. (Don’t get too excited. He was born in 1879.) Happy birthday, Albert! I’ll be toasting you at 9:26.

 

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been reading an awful lot of picture books. As part of the quest for specific titles, I’ve been looking up titles on my local library’s website. When they don’t have it, I look it up on a network of public libraries. This is very nostalgic for me because I used to something similar back in the early 1980s. Libraries began digitizing their card catalogs long before anyone devised what is now known as the internet. Part of what I was doing was helping my mother-in-law find references for her genealogical search. Velma was an amazing and determined lady. Anyway, don’t forget this extremely useful tool. I spent a couple of hours yesterday in another county just reading picture books.

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