It happened today - March 14, 2016
Huh? Non-mathematicians cry? Obviously pi, or π as it’s also known, is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its radius and because the universe is irrational or God is larky or something it’s an “irrational” number which, as all celebrants of Pi Day know, is one that cannot be expressed as a “ratio of two integers” a.k.a. a fraction. And Pi Day itself is March 14 because, in places that go month-day-year (instead of logically going from small to big day-month-year) it goes 3.14. And then the 16th century adds the 15 and the 1590s add the nine and 1592 adds the two at which point you’re rather out of digits which could be deflating.
Instead people actually celebrate Pi Day, by eating pies, throwing pies, reciting pi and otherwise whooping it up nerd-style. And I think that’s great. I think it’s part of what makes us human in a good way, that we get enthusiastic and creative about things and embrace the most ridiculous manifestations with the greatest enthusiasm precisely because they are ridiculous. And, in the case of actual pie, pretty good-tasting much of the time.
The U.S. House of Representatives even passed a non-binding resolution declaring March 14 Pi Day back in 2009, and informally March 2014 was pi month and March 14 2015 was special because in America it was 3/14/15 and, not to be outdone by March 14, 1592, they treated 3/14/15 9:25:53 as a very special moment… um… second. Of course if they’d been doing this stuff back in 1592 they’d have gone nuts at 3/14/1592 6:53:58 and if they’d been able to measure hundreds of seconds they’d have added another … oh oh… the next digit is nine.
Oh well. Never mind. Pi day is still fun. Some Indian guy actually recited pi to 70,000 digits in 2015 over nine riveting hours 27 minutes, though oddly on March 21 2015 not March 14. And a retired Japanese engineer claims to have done it to 100,000 though Guinness World Records wasn’t there to see this madcap outburst of unrestrained fun-loving boredom.
Oh, and if you can’t get enough of this stuff, July 22 is Pi Approximation Day because 22/7 is pi accurate to two digits and has been known to be since Archimedes.
Speaking of which, you’ve heard of Roman numerals and know what a headache they were to do math with even if math doesn’t give you a headache anyway. But how did the Greeks do it?
That’s a topic for another day. For now have some pie. 3.14159 pieces, if you have a sharp enough knife, an accurate enough ruler and a nerdy enough sense of fun.