Celebrate Pi Day, March 14th - What’s Pi All About? | Community Idea Stations


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Celebrate Pi Day, March 14th - What’s Pi All About?

The Science Museum of Virginia is ready to get a little irrational about Pi in hopes to make your knowledge of this tasty number a bit more well rounded. On Wednesday, March 14, from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. celebrate the first three digits of Pi, 3.14, on March 14 – also known as 3/14 with a day filled with some pie science.

Pi or π = Pi - is an irrational number and it keeps going and going making it an irrational, infinite number. In recognition of Pi Day, experiment with pies at the Science Museum. Discover what happens to a shaving cream pie in a vacuum, what happens to a variety of pies when dropped several stories and what happens to a shaving cream pie when it is frozen with liquid nitrogen. All of this Pi Day science and fun is included with Museum admission.

Want to know more? What is Pi? Well, for starters Pi is an irrational number in that it cannot be expressed as a ratio of integers. Pi is an infinite number because it is without end – it keeps going… and going and going… so pi is both an irrational and an infinite number! The most commonly known digits of Pi are 3.14 (hence the March 14th as the celebration of Pi-Day!), but in 2011 the calculated digits of Pi went to ten trillion digits!! I know, you may be saying to yourself “Pi can' believe it!!”, but its true. Remember, its an irrational number... it never ends!

So, why Pi? Why fill our March 14th with tons and tons of Pi stuff? What's Pi ever done for us?
Well, Pi is known best for finding Diameter and Circumference of circles, but think about what that really means...
Where would wrist watches be without Pi? Pi helps determine the amount of space between the symbols on your clocks and wrist watches!! Okay okay, we're going digital and time is easily told on your mobile phones, so perhaps the wrist watch has not convinced you on how important Pi is, but would your mobile phones be able to receive a signal without that satellite floating in the right place in orbit around the Earth? No! Pi is a very important portion of getting the info needed to put the satellite in orbit around the Earth. The Earth's curve is a sphere so we do need Pi to calculate the position of our mobile phone satellites. We would not want to send it to a part of the world that is too far for your signals to reach right?

There sure is a lot of cool stuff happening in the world of basketball these days right? Well, again, Pi is a big behind-the-scenes player in the game of basketball. Those hoops, those basketballs, and even the lids to all the beverages people drink at basketball games are all created and manufactured by folks that have to factor in Pi to get their exact shape! A square hoop, an oddly shaped basketball, and a lid that does not match the container of soda would make for a pretty lousy experience. Be sure to thank Pi the next time you're watching the game in person or on TV!

Speaking of TV, if you've ever watched a DVD you should be grateful for Pi. Ever thought about what would be needed to not only manufacture the disc, but also the way that data is put onto the disc in circular form? Yep, you guessed it, Pi!!

For science to explain things like rainbows, ripples in a pond, waves, geometry, the DNA double helix strands, and much more we have to employ our amazing and irrational mathematical friend, Pi.

We hope you guys have an awesome Pi day!

Oh and yes, to create the circular pan that all your tasty pie's are made on, you're going to need π

OMP!!...100,000 digits of Pi!!!

Article by Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia, Question Your World!

For more on the History of Pi

Listen to this report by WCVE Public Radio’s Charles Fishburne: