On Exploring a Piece of Pi

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I am ashamed to tell you to how many figures I carried these calculations, having no other business at the time. (Isaac Newton; philosopher, astronomer, physicist)

If equations are trains threading the landscape of numbers, then no train stops at pi.
~Richard Preston, journalist

This mysterious 3.141592…, which comes in at every door and window, and down every chimney. It is easier to square the circle than to get round a mathematician. (Augustus De Morgan, mathematician)

Whether any other Mathematician will appear, possessing sufficient leisure, patience, and facility of computation, to calculate the value of pi to a still greater extent, remains to be seen: all that the Author can say is, he takes leave of the subject for the present … (William Shanks, mathematician who spent a great part of his life in huge hand calculations of constants )

Ten decimal places of pi are sufficient to give the circumference of the earth to a fraction of an inch, and thirty decimal places would give the circumference of the visible universe to a quantity imperceptible to the most powerful microscope. (Simon Newcomb, astronomer)

The value of pi has engaged the attention of many mathematicians and calculators from the time of Archimedes to the present day, and has been computed from so many different formulae, that a complete account of its calculation would almost amount to a history of mathematics. ( James Glaisher, meteorologist)

A bell cannot tell time, but it can be moved in just such a way as to say twelve oโ€™clock โ€“ similarly, a man cannot calculate infinite numbers, but he can be moved in just such a way as to say pi. (Daniel Tammet, author Thinking in Numbers: How Maths Illuminates Our)

36 thoughts on “On Exploring a Piece of Pi

  1. It remains a mystery to me! I regard the fact that it is so as just another piece of proof of the mystery of the unknowable ………. you know, that thing that makes life, the universe and everything exist in and around us……. I’m off to watch the final of DWTS – when next we ‘speak’, that particular mystery will be known to me ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. My husband teaches high school math, so pi is a constant at our house. (See what I did there? ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Actually not, only for him. Math has always been my worst subject, and our daughters’, too. I remember hearing music based on pi, but I don’t remember if it’s the same one as your clip. Th I wrote a blog post on pi and pie for Pi Day.
    I will have to see if my husband knows these quotes. Thanks. Have a great weekend!


  3. From Wikipedia on ฯ€ :

    For most numerical calculations involving ฯ€, a handful of digits provide sufficient precision. According to Jรถrg Arndt and Christoph Haenel, thirty-nine digits are sufficient to perform most cosmological calculations, because that is the accuracy necessary to calculate the volume of the known universe with a precision of one atom.[83] Despite this, people have worked strenuously to compute ฯ€ to thousands and millions of digits.[84] This effort may be partly ascribed to the human compulsion to break records, and such achievements with ฯ€ often make headlines around the world.

    To misquote the famous Bob Hope,

    Thanks for the memory.


  4. I lived for forty three years with a mathematician, so I learned much about the poetic nature of pi. Especially enjoyed the music…..I wonder why they chose to make it a waltz….


  5. I remember back in March people kept making an issue of 3/14/15 being pi day and how it would never come around again, but actually when shortened to 4 decimal places pi is 3.1416 since the next number is 9 so they were really a year early on that.


    • Val,
      Your comment made me laugh and smile … .laugh that math being a mystery to you … yet you loved this post … thus I see you as an example of keeping your mind open to learn. ๐Ÿ™‚


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