Math for Everybody: Celebrating Pi Day

It’s a holiday that’s set to unite “mathletes” all over the world — at least for a few fractions of a second.

This week marks a very special “Pi Day” — no, we’re not talking about the Raspberry Pi microcomputer that’s been much covered on this blog — but a day dedicated to the celebration of one of mathematics’ most beloved numbers.

March 14, of course, is the calendar equivalent of Pi’s rounded value of 3.14. But this year, there’s something extra special about it that only comes around every century or so.

For the first time since 1915, Pi Day will include all of the first five digits of Pi: 3/14/15. And twice on that day, there will be blips of time in the morning and in the evening that will exactly match the value of Pi.

Pi Day 2015That time will come sometime between March 14, 2015, at 9:26 a.m. and again at 9:26 p.m., at somewhere between 53 and 54 seconds.

Still with me? Here’s the rough explainer:

Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi is an infinite string of numbers, and in that string is any combination of numbers, also infinite. Somewhere in the middle, for example, is an infinite string of 9s.

The number goes on forever, but for starters, it’s:  3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197  … and onward infinitely.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has a great roundup of Pi Day activities happening around the world, including a special event at the Computer History Museum.

And, the Broadcom Foundation supports an out-of-school learning experience in the Bay Area called Broadcom Presents: Design_CODE_Build.  Through a series of interactive math and coding events, students learn principles of computer coding hands-on using the Raspberry Pi.