The Naked Green

2004.11.18 Thursday

Pi

Filed under: Obsessions — Mr. Green @ 11.39 am

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The number Pi has interested me since I watched Pi, the movie which is a fascinating movie directed by Darren Arronofsky about a brilliant tortured mathematician. I like the movie on several levels, but check it out yourself and see what you think.

What’s the big deal about Pi? We know that A=Pi*R^2 which calculates the area of a circle, but what is Pi and what makes it so fascinating? Simply put, Pi is an irrational number that is the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. The fascinating thing about it is that it never ends or repeats (that we know of) and is a constant. Mathematicians have been interested in these characteristics of Pi throughout history. Pi has been calculated to 1,241,100,000,000 decimal places (that’s 1.24 trillion) by a truly nutty professor.

A good resource on Pi, The Pi Pages has the following quote from the book Pi: A Source Book by: L. Berggren, J. Borwein and P. Borwein:

“The story of pi reflects the most seminal, the most serious and sometimes the silliest aspects of mathematics. A surprising amount of the most important mathematics and a significant number of the most important mathematicians have contributed to its unfolding — directly or otherwise.

Pi is one of the few concepts in mathematics whose mention evokes a response of recognition and interest in those not concerned professionally with the subject. It has been a part of human culture and the educated imagination for more than twenty five hundred years.”

Pi has inspired some interesting and sometimes humorous websites on the internet. At the Pi Search Page, you can search for any number within the first 100 million digits of Pi. There is actually a sourceforge project dedicated to creating programs for calculating Pi. Dr. Math has some great answers to kids’ Pi questions and The Pi Pages are a great place to start for more Pi madness. For people like my brother, there is this page for calculating Pi with your pencil.

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