Quote Why pi Matters:
Every March 14th, mathematicians like me are prodded out of our burrows like Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, blinking and bewildered by all the fuss. Yes, it’s Pi Day again. And not just any Pi Day. They’re calling this the Pi Day of the century: 3.14.15. Pi to five digits. A once-in-a-lifetime thing.
The beauty of pi, in part, is that it puts infinity within reach.
Even young children get this. The digits of pi never end and never show a pattern. They go on forever, seemingly at random—except that they can’t possibly be random, because they embody the order inherent in a perfect circle. This tension between order and randomness is one of the most tantalizing aspects of pi.
I seemingly exist in this neitherworld of tension between order and randomness. Maybe that's why I am one of those wierdo kooks who enjoy the movie Pi.
One of the earliest such infinite series to be discovered says that pi equals four times the sum 1 – 1/3 + 1/5 – 1/7 + 1/9 – 1/11 + ⋯. The appearance of this formula alone is cause for celebration. It connects all odd numbers to pi, thereby also linking number theory to circles and geometry. In this way, pi joins two seemingly separate mathematical universes, like a cosmic wormhole.
...like a cosmic wormhole... that gets me out of the binary box. Maybe that's why I wrote this poem.
Inside, those little wire boxes
with little wire wheels,
circumferences, the irrational number pi,
befuddling in never-creations,
go purveyors of binary opposition.
Round and around they go!
A world of circles,
and they never, ever "know"!
What distinguishes pi from all other numbers is its connection to cycles. For those of us interested in the applications of mathematics to the real world, this makes pi indispensable. Whenever we think about rhythms—processes that repeat periodically, with a fixed tempo, like a pulsing heart or a planet orbiting the sun—we inevitably encounter pi.