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Pi Day!
by: Dr. Boogie

March is best known as the month we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, a day when we all pretend to be Irish by drinking to excess (I apologize to any of our Irish readers, unless you're too drunk to read this apology, in which case you're free to Erin-Go-Blow me). However, there is an even more relevant holiday in the month of March that is so often forgotten, possibly because of the drinking. I'm talking, of course, about Pi Day.

Yes, I can't believe it's been a year already. Today is Pi Day, my friends. March 14th is the day that we celebrate pi in all its form and splendor. Also, today is Einstein's birthday, but he loved pi just as much as the rest of us, so I'm sure he won't mind me making today mostly about pi. I know all of you are busy trying to think of how you can fit all of your Pi Day activities into 24 hours, so I'll try to make this quick:

For all of the uninitiated, pi is an irrational number with many uses, but is mostly just used to figure out the circumference (that's the distance around) of a circle, or the diameter/radius if you like to do things backwards. It was created centuries ago by ancient Babylonian merchants, who tried to determine the quickest way to transport their goods. By working backwards using pi and the circumference of the Earth (known at that time to be "approximately 500 sandal paces long"), they determined that it was actually be a much shorter trip if they simply tunneled straight through the Earth itself, and so they set to digging. This proved to be far more difficult than they had ever imagined, but in the process, the merchants accidentally invented mining, which supplemented the mostly vegetable, meat, and fur-based economy.

But even knowing all of this, there still remains the question of what is pi? We know that pi is an irrational number, but what does that mean? I, personally, have no idea what an "irrational" number is, and all my attempts to find out what that phrase means have lead only to more confusion and an unhealthy contempt for math in general. It's easier to simply accept pi's role in mathematics than to try to understand its savage mysteries. "How do you find the circumference if a circle," someone might ask. "Pi times the diameter," you reply. "Ok, but what the heck is 'pi'?" "I don't know, but I can't do much with circles without it." I personally can't even begin to understand it beyond memorizing the location of the pi button on my calculator.

Some of history's greatest mathematicians (not to be confused with history's greatest mathemagicians) have devoted their entire lives to trying to uncover the secrets of pi. Take the famed Archimedes of Syracuse: now here was a guy who loved math. The man spent his entire life coming up with the theories and formulas that many of us would go on to forget soon after graduating High School. Late in his life, he attempted to unravel the secret of this incredible creation known as pi (which the Romans called "Pi-us"). Archimedes attempted time and time again to map the infernal number in its entirety, but each subsequent attempt only put him further and further into the never-ending bowels of this never-ending number. In fact, during the capture of Syracuse in 212 BC, he was working on the problem when he was accosted by a Roman soldier who fancied himself a mathematician. Archimedes explained that he was attempting to find out all the digits of pi, and the brash soldier responded by saying that pi was, in fact, exactly three. Needless to say, Archimedes flew into an unstoppable, geriatric, math-lover's rage. Unfortunately, he was no match for the soldier's blade, not even with the help of his so-called "Club of Archimedes" (Which later generations would come to know as an "umbrella").

But the misfortune of a dead philosopher is no reason to feel bummed out on Pi Day. Today is a day that we all remember that pi is an important part of our lives, and at the same time a terrible and endless void of repeating numbers that must be feared and respected. The best way to acknowledge both of these things is to do something pi-related. Reciting as many digits of pi as you can remember is, ironically, an activity for squares. The real hipsters will understand that "pi-related activities" can mean things like eating pies, watching the movie Pi, watching episodes of Magnum P.I., or drinking a pina colada. Talking like a pirate, even though you can't spell "pirate" without "pi," is not acceptable, as there is already a holiday devoted to this particular activity. Eating a pizza, however, is acceptable and is in fact encouraged, as pizza is delicious. Plus, the east coast slang for a pizza is to call it a "pie", and so your Pi Day can be full of delectable treats and comics misunderstandings with your friends from New York.

In closing, I'd like to wish all of you a happy Pi Day. Have some fun and think about numbers, but don't drink and drive, and absolutely do not try to discover the final digit in pi. It is merely a myth, and trying to find it may drive you mad. Conversely, don't accidentally round pi down to three. Even the Babylonians knew that wasn't so, and they didn't even have moveable type, or DSL for that matter, so what excuse do you have?


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