c = the circle’s circumference &

d = it’s diameter

Many jokes are made about pi day and eating pie. pi is an amazing irrational number. It’s defined as the ratio of a circle and its diameter once proved that the ratio is constant, ie independent of the size of the circle. I’ve mc’d math days where to entertain the audience of bright students I’ve asked how many knew 10 digits of pi. I was blown away by the number of hands. I continued until I got to 100 and two students raised their hands. I had one come to the stage for him to recite them.

High schoolers often achieve their ten minutes of fame by discovering more digits of pi. What is most amazing is that pi appears in so many different formulas seemingly unrelated to circles. A colleague of mine once received a call about the exact value of pi. He said to two places it’s 3.14, then the fellow asked but what is it exactly. 3.14159 is exact enough for more purposes. Not good enough. He couldn’t convince the caller the digits didn’t end. I’m so ornery, I would have begun making up digits until he hung up or got it.

The Indiana House in 1897 passed a law that declared pi was 3.2. The Senate evidently heard the country’s outcry and stopped it.

It seems fitting that Stephen Hawking be remembered as one of the greatest physicists of all time and appropriate that the day he left us be well marked. I saw him recently on Star Talk, and loved his insight on life. (My clever daughter said he gave us a Hole new light on the passage of time.)

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