March 14 marks the day to honor the oldest and the most recognized mathematical constant in the world, Pi (π = 3.14159265…). Its significant figures – 3, 1 and 4 – match the date expressed in (m/dd) format – 3/14; making March 14 the perfect mathematical holiday – Pi Day.
The annual celebration, founded by Physicist Larry Shaw in 1988, is celebrated by having pies. This owes to the fact that the irrational number and the baked dish are homophones.
Why celebrate Pi Day?
Pi (π) is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter. Its value has been known for around 4,000 years and was used by ancient Babylonians to calculate the area of a circle, according to historical records.
Pi is classified as an irrational number. This means that this decimal number never ends or repeats. According to Guinness World Records, the most accurate value for Pi, calculated by the University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland, accounted for more than 62 trillion digits (precisely 62,831,853,071,796).
The infinite number is considered by some passionate mathematicians as transcendent, magical and otherworldly. Being the ratio between the circumference and the diameter of a circle – a shape of infinite perfection – this number is thought to hold some of the most fascinating mysteries of the Universe.
How to celebrate?
Having pie is a deep-rooted tradition, but for those who do not enjoy this pastry, eating foods that start with pi, such as pineapples and pizzas, or both; is also a popular option to honor the magical number. Eating foods that are circular in shape, like cookies, is widely common too.
Joining contests is another great way to engage in the celebration. While some people gather to find out who can recite the most digits of the constant, others take the opportunity to practice their baking skills. And, of course, there are those who are willing to discover who can eat the most pies.
Whichever way suits your celebration preferences, make sure you take a moment to admire the perfection of nature, expressed in this seemingly simple mathematical constant. And do not forget to wish Einstein a happy birthday!