Pi (π) might be an irrational number, but you don’t have to be crazy to celebrate it. You finally have permission to commemorate your favorite number, as March 14th is international Pi Day. On 3/14, which sort of looks like 3.14 or the first three digits of pi, mathletes finally have something other than The Big Band Theory to get excited about, while the rest of world focuses on March Madness and Spring Break.
Sure it’s just a number, but it’s a pretty big deal. It represents the ratio of circumference to diameter of every single circle in the world, no matter how big or small it is. By virtue of being irrational, it’s also a transcendental number, which means it can’t be the root of an integer polynomial equation with rational coefficients. Pi isn’t the only irrational, transcendental number to exist in the world, but it is the only one to have its own special day.
3.141592653… and the decimals keep going. That’s because pi is an irrational number that can’t be expressed in 3 integers or fewer, which is just a fancy way of saying these decimals go on infinitely. Yes, we really mean infinitely—just ask Akira Haraguchi, an engineer from Japan. He holds the world record for reciting the most digits of pi. The feat took him 16 hours and spanned 111,700 digits.
That’s certainly one way to celebrate the day, but we’re willing to bet most people don’t want to spend their time reciting numbers. So the question remains: how will you celebrate this iconic mathematical symbol? Maybe you’ll co-opt Dick Solomon’s rousing chant, sine Cosine, Cosine Sine; 3.14159. If you’d rather not confuse people with random outbursts of pi decimals, we suggest you try the following pi-related activities and accessories to celebrate the day.
Bake a Pie
It’s obvious, isn’t it? Pi is a homophone of pie, so why not embrace your inner baker and spend some time in the kitchen. Go savoury with a steak and Guinness pie, or indulge your sweet tooth with a pecan pie. But don’t worry if you’re hopeless in the kitchen. Your local bakery will be there to help you out, and you can always pick up the phone to order a pizza. We say it counts — same with anything else that’s round.
Listen to Kate Bush’s π
Prog-rocker queen, Kate Bush, sang an ode to the number on her 8th studio album, Aerial. The chanteuse sings about a man with a “complete infatuation with the calculation of Pi”. While this unnamed man loves his numbers, unfortunately Kate doesn’t share the same interest. When she goes onto sing the number, she only gets to its 78th decimal before skipping to the 101st. It’s not perfect, but it’s the only song in the world that puts π to music.
Walk, Run, or Bike 3.14 miles
You’re going to want to burn off some energy after all of those pies. Don your running shoes or slap on your helmet and take to the roads this March. To keep your moment of exercise in tune with the day, try to get as close to π on your run as possible.
Wear Your Pi Pride
The cult celebration may not share the same popularity as St. Patty’s Day, but there are a lot of people out there willing to show off their love for the number on the 14th and any other day of the year. You can get pi inspired shirts, mugs, and even earrings just like you can get St. Patty’s Day gear. And if you’re feeling particularly fashionable, you can match your newly acquired digs with a matching vinyl skin for your phone, tablet, gaming console, or laptop. These skins, made by the engineers at dbrand headquarters, use pi in order to accommodate the port holes, headphone jacks, and camera lenses of any gadget accurately, so they don’t cover up any important hubs.
Despite the mathematical origins of the day, you don’t need a protractor set in order to apply these skins. They’re relatively simple addition to your device. There isn’t any messy glue to worry about, nor does it take hours to set. If you’re at all concerned with the hows, you can always visit dbrand.com/skins/how-to-apply to make sure you’re on the right track.
Once you’re decked head to toe in your favorite pi gear, you can head off to distant locations to celebrate the day. Pi Day has Larry Shaw of the Exploratorium of San Francisco to thank for its existence, as the physicist organized the very first celebration of the irrational number. San Francisco and its Exploratorium are a natural choice for a π-destination. On the other side of the country, you can kill two birds with one stone by visiting Princeton, New Jersey, where locals celebrate both pi and Albert Einstein’s birthday with pie-eating contests, amongst a variety of other events inspired by 3.14.
There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate this transcendental number’s day, as long as you’re having fun while you do it. Put on Kate Bush’s album, order a pizza, and roll out the crust of a home-made pie while you wait for its delivery. Or do something entirely different. Just let us know how you intend to celebrate.