Pi Day 3/14

Emily Eisenhauer, Student Writer

As we come into the early weeks of March, the day of the fourteenth is a representative of Pi day!! Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π. It was founded relatively around 1988 and brought into effect by Larry Shaw, who was an employee of the Exploratorium. To celebrate this very special day many bake pies, go figure, and often practice the memorization of the mathematical expression.

The importance of Pi is dated back to the ancient times of the Babylonians about four thousand years ago dealing with the calculations of the area of a circle. An approximation of “3 times the square of the radius of the circle.” Egyptian mathematicians approximated Pi with a bit more precision at 3.1605, as indicated in the Rhind Papyrus, which dates back to 1,650 B.C.

The Greek mathematician Archimedes (287-212 B.C.) used a visually creative approach to approximate Pi by using the areas of two polygons. To envision this method, picture a polygon having so many sides that it resembles a circle in shape. With a lot of patience and grit, the area of such a polygon can be determined by constructing right triangles inside, using the Pythagorean Theorem to determine the side lengths, calculating the area of each triangle, and then adding them up.

Fun Fact: Pi has now been calculated to 31 trillion digits.