By Christy Blevins
What is Pi? Is it just a number, or is it actually a delicious dessert? Or, could it possibly also be a day that gives you an excuse to eat said delicious dessert? Pi Day celebrates all of the above, but how did Pi Day come about, and what makes this year so darn special?
In case it wasn’t clear, Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 (3/14, get it?) and it celebrates the Greek symbol pi, π, which represents the math constant of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.
The earliest large-scale celebration of the glorious constant pi was held in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium. It was organized by physicist Larry Shaw and involved staff marching around in a circular public space and consuming fruit pies when they were finished. Since then, the San Francisco Exploratorium has held annual Pi Day celebrations, and now the rest of the world does too.
In 2009, a motion passed by the US House of Representatives designated March 14 as National Pi Day. Pi Day may be a newer celebration as history goes, but it will continue on as a popular event. This was initially approved to urge the study of mathematics and to recognize the importance of mathematical education.
So how do you celebrate Pi Day? That’s easy, eat pie! Any pie! In fact, most celebrations around the world involve eating pie during or at the end of their celebrations, but other activities have also occurred. In past years, the San Francisco Exploratorium has hosted several unique events such as making a Pi string of more than 4,000 colored beads, with each color representing a different number, to tossing pizza pie dough.
Other activities, which schools or individuals have participated in, include competing to see who can memorize the most numbers in pi, telling pi jokes, throwing pies, and, have I mentioned eating pies? Fun Fact: Massachusetts Institute of Technology will electronically post their acceptance decisions on 3/14/15 at 9:26 a.m.
This year, 2015, is even more special than just a regular old Pi Day however. To understand why, you must know the first 10 digits of pi, and it just so happens that they appear in this sentence: 3.141592653. The special significance of this year on Pi Day is that at exactly 9:26:53 am/pm the date and time will line up with the precise first 10 digits of pi. (3/14/15 9:26:53).
To see a million digits of pi, go to http://www.piday.org/million/.