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Happy Pi(e) Day!

Over a year ago (when we had no idea what was in the future for us), the Library Board talked about having a fundraiser. The idea was to sell pie for breakfast – yum! We decided that it would be fun to hold this event on “Pi” Day 2021. It was perfect because this date – 3/14/21 – would fall on a Sunday and the potential was there for a great turnout. Of course, the world went upside down and we had to cancel our event. Bummer!


What is Pi Day anyway? Pi or π for you mathematicians, is a Greek letter and represents a really long number. It starts with 3.14 so it makes sense to call today Pi Day, right? There is a website (of course there is), called piday.org which has all the information you’ll need to talk intelligently about pi and its related holiday. But, if you just want the basics, “Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. Pi Day is an annual opportunity for math enthusiasts to recite the infinite digits of Pi, talk to their friends about math, and to eat pie.” I think the coolest thing about Pi is that the number never repeats and goes on FOREVER.


When I say it’s a really LONG number, let’s put that into perspective. It has been calculated out to over one trillion digits and, unlike pi, I’ll repeat myself - the numbers never repeat. There are these people who memorize as many of these digits as they can and consider it a game. I’m glad when I can remember where I put my keys so you can see why this is very impressive to me. Pi is irrational because it does not have a pattern or repeat. So the next time someone tells you that you’re being irrational, just repeat yourself and you’ll prove them wrong, right?


What is some of the history of pi? Well there were these really smart people with names like Fibonacci and Newton who spent countless hours calculating its digits and applying it to different areas of mathematics. In the early days, some determined individuals would use rope stretchers as measurements of pi digits (although they didn't know it was called that yet). I did not see the use of an abacus in my research, but it’s making a cameo appearance here because it’s cool.


According to piday.org: “Archimedes, a Greek mathematician, was the first to use an algorithmic approach to calculate pi. He drew a polygon inside a circle and drew a second polygon outside of the circle. Then he continuously added more and more sides of both polygons, getting closer and closer to the shape of the circle. Having reached 96-sided polygons, he proved that 223/71< pi < 22/7.” Of course he did but to be perfectly honest, it’s all Greek to me. Piday.org goes on to say "Until 1647, it didn’t have a universal name or symbol. English mathematician William Oughtred began calling it pi in his publication Clavis Mathematicae, but it wasn’t until Leonhard Euler used the symbol in 1737 that it became widely embraced. The reason for adopting this particular Greek letter is because it is the first letter of the Greek word, perimetros, which loosely translates to “circumference.”'


So - *happy dance* - the Board is going to hold Pie for Breakfast next year and, while it won’t be on the actual Pi Day, it will be close enough. Please plan on bringing your irrational self and a few trillion of your closest friends!

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