Getting Irrational: Pi Day Blends Mathematics, Dessert

Getting Irrational: Pi Day Blends Mathematics, Dessert

March 14 will have an ending, but the number celebrated on Monday does not.


Pi is celebrated on March 14, or 3/14, especially at 1:59 p.m., as those digits correspond with the first digits of pi, 3.14159, said Lawrence Schovanec, provost and senior vice president at Texas Tech. He was a chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Pi is an irrational number, said Schovanec, and there are more irrational numbers than there are rational numbers. Irrational numbers cannot be expressed as a fraction.

The number pi has been a fascination since the Egyptians and Babylonians, he said, as most humans have a need to find patterns.

“The fascination with pi reflects the fascination with mathematics,” Schovanec said.

Celebrating the number on March 14 giving details of the numbers practical use shows people that math is more than number crunching, math can be fun and beautiful like art, he said.

Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter of the circle, and the number often comes in natural geographical measurements, Schovanec said.

Pi may not be calculated every time a pie is baked, but the treat is often eaten on Pi Day.

The Choc’late Mousse Pie Bar has some customers come in to celebrate on March 14, said Maleena Navarro, who works at the pie bar.

The Choc’late Mousse will come up with a surprise special on Monday, she said.

Customers who celebrate Pi Day range from college students to families, Navarro said, and a few teachers do order pies.

As for Schovanec, he said apple pie is his favorite, and his wife makes a great apple pie.

Schovanec said he is not sure when Pi Day started, but the number has an interesting history.

Pi to 3.2?

Indiana was famous for almost passing a bill to change pi to 3.2, he said. The bill passed the state House but not the Senate.

Dr. Edwin J. Goodwin tried to square the circle, and persuaded his representative to introduce a bill on his “new mathematical truth,” according to purdue.edu. Clarence Abiathar Waldo, the head of the mathematics department at Purdue, heard of the bill and persuaded the senate, on fear of reactionary ridicule, not to change the mathematically accepted version of pi.

Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein was born on Pi Day, said Schovanec.

Check Also

Newspaper Accidentally Uses Alec Baldwin ‘SNL’ Photo Instead of Donald Trump

Newspaper Accidentally Uses Alec Baldwin ‘SNL’ Photo Instead of Donald Trump

Maybe Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump impersonation is… too good? Dominican newspaper El Nacional apologized on Saturday after mistakenly using a photo of Baldwin dressed as President Trump on “Saturday Night Live,” instead of president himself.