If you have a craving for mathematics or even just a slice of pie today, there's a very good reason for that. Today marks the 30th anniversary of Pi Day, or 3.14 if you prefer. You may remember “π” the Greek letter from math class.
The March 14 holiday pays tribute to the mathematical constant Pi, with the first three digits 3.14 looking like 3/14 or pies. For mathematicians the day honors Pi being the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter and plays a key component in geometry. Before we get into a little bit of the history of Pi, let's look at the holiday itself.
Who started Pi Day?
The international day of Pi was first recognized in 1988 by physicist Larry Shaw. Shaw organized the first celebration of π at the San Francisco Exploratorium science museum and of course chose March 14 because it corresponds with 3.14. Shaw died in 2017, but the legacy of his holiday lives on with math lovers and those who just love eating pie.
Pi Day earned national acknowledgement when it was recognized by the House of Representatives in 2009. This year it's celebrated by Google with a Google Doodle designed by the inventor of the cronut, pastry chef Dominique Ansel.
So, what is Pi or 3.14?
We know that it's the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, but who discovered it? Pi has been around for a very long time and references to it can be found as far back as the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians and Babylonians. As for the actual first calculation of 3.14, that's largely attributed to Archimedes, the Greek mathematician and astronomer who lived in the third century B.C.
As for the symbol of Pi π, a Welsh mathematics teacher by the name of William Jones is believed to have been the first to use it. Because Pi is a mathematical constant it remains unchanged by the size of the numbers it's used to equate and its digits never repeat. In layman's terms, 3.14 is only the beginning and the number goes on for infinity.
Who has calculated the most digits of Pi?
That mind-boggling feat of brain endurance would go to physicist Peter Trueb who in 2016 calculated Pi out to 22,459,157,718,361 digits. It was a grueling process that took Trueb four months. (Yes, he used a computer, only a psycho would attempt that on a chalkboard.)
How to celebrate Pi Day?
Well, I suppose you could try to beat Trueb's world-record, but that would be an exercise in futility for most of us. It would probably be a lot more enjoyable to just eat a piece of pie.
A number of places both local and national are rolling out special deals for the holiday. For example Cicis Pizza is offering an adult buffet for $3.14 with the purchase of a regular adult buffet.
If you're looking for actual pie and not bottom barrel pizza, Whole Foods is moving pies today by taking $3.14 off the regular price of bakery pies.