This holiday is often overlooked by those who do not speak Greek or those who do not speak Geek… but for the science major, this is a special celebration. Each year, on March 14, or 3/14, or 3.14 — we have the first three digits of “Pi.” If one wanted to be precise, and why not, it would be at 15:92 o’clock, or 4:32 pm… and 65.35 seconds, or slightly after 4:33 pm. You get the idea.
The origin of this geek holiday has been traced to a celebration led by Larry Shaw at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988 where he was a physicist. No less than the US House of Representatives boldly stepped out and passed a non-binding resolution recognizing March 14 as Pi Day in 2009. Your tax dollars at work.
Pi Day is gaining traction with purveyors of the circular food.
- In my neighborhood, there is a shop called 3.14 Sweet and Savory Pi Bar. They serve, ironically, sweet and savory pies. They celebrate Pi Day as if it were their day.
- The local pizza establishment in the vicinity, Il Vicino is offering a special price on the basic pie, $3.14
- Village Inn offers a quiz to find out how much you know about Pi.
Two famous physicists have associations with Pi Day:
- Albert Einstein was born on PI Day, March 14, 1879.
- Stephen Hawking died on PI Day, March 14, 2018.
The life of Pi, (no relation to the Academy Award-winning movie) has evolved to the point that Engadget has featured the music of Michael John Blake who turned the first 31 decimal places into a song:
…played at 157 beats per minute, no less (or half of 314). As it turns out, however, Blake wasn’t the first to come up with the idea — composer Lars Erickson wrote his own “Pi Symphony” a few years back, and has now sparked a bit of a copyright spat on YouTube over who actually owns the rights to Pi in musical form.
You can find the Pi Symphony here.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian