Pick of the Day: Pi Day

Paul kind of stole my thunder on this with his post last night which, being March 14, was technically Pi day. But because this celebration is being hosted by the University of Regina’s Math, Actuarial Science and Statistics Students Society, it got shifted to today.

As a high school and university student, I was pretty good at math. Not a genius, but competent. So I can at least relate to mathematicians and understand the nature of the work they do and its importance to society. And I’m not simply talking about having seen A Beautiful Mind either (which I have, although not the Russell Crowe movie, but as a stage play at the Globe a few years back).  I actually know, and occasionally socialize with, a couple of mathematicians at the university.

In numbers, March 14 reads 3/14. Pretty funny, eh? Or maybe not, depending on your degree of math expertise. What about if I take out the backslash and substitute a decimal so it reads 3.14? It’s probably still pretty obscure, but those are the first three digits of pi.

From what I remember of high school geometry, pi was developed by the ancient Greeks and is a constant used in certain geometric calculations. A circle’s circumference, for example, equals 2πr (two times pi times the circle’s radius) while its area equals πr(pi times the square of the radius.)

As a fraction, pi is expressed as 22/7. When you reduce it down, you end up with 3.1415926535897932 … I could continue, for a very long time I could continue, perhaps even to the end of time, because pi, as far as we know, never ends. There’s other fractions like that. 10/3, for instance, reduces as 3.33333 … ad infinitum. Pi never repeats, though. And it’s not like its an inconsequential number, either. It’s a cornerstone of Euclidean geometry. And its neverending. Kind of cosmic, don’t you think?

Anyway, to celebrate the glory that is pi MASSSS is hosting Pi Day. You can read the details in Paul’s post here.  The movie Pi, by the way, is a 1998 thriller about a paranoid mathematician who uses a supercomputer to predict stock prices with great success until his program malfunctions.

Later tonight, the U of R Education Department is holding another of its Talkin’ About School & Society discussions at LaBodega Restaurant at 7 p.m. The topic? Accountability & Standardized Assessment: Who is Being Served?

Also, the Stars From The Commitments are at Casino Regina tonight. They’ve been through here before. Here’s the trailer from the 1991 movie (itself based on a best-selling Roddy Doyle novel) that they starred in. It’s got a 92-per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. So I guess they’re entitled.

Finally, I’ll have more on this tomorrow, but as part of Les Rendez-vous du Cinema Quebecois, a mini-festival of Quebec film being presented by the university’s Institut Francais and the Conseil Culturel Fransaskois, there will be a screening of Denis Villeneuve’s 2009 film Polytechnique at the RPL Theatre tonight at 7 p.m. (adults $8, students $6.). It’s based on the 1989 massacre at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your inferior human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

2 thoughts on “Pick of the Day: Pi Day”

  1. In case anyone’ wondering how things went on Pi Day, Pi lost the debate to e. It was close but the applause-o-meter gave the upstart transcendental the edge. In other news, the pie was fantastic.

  2. Um, sorry to be pedantic (but that is was mathematicians do best) 22/7 is not the fraction form of pi. It is a good approximation to pi, but pi is irrational. Not meaning that it is crazy, just that it can’t be expressed as a ratio, so there is no fraction form for pi. We know for sure that the decimal expansion of pi nevers ends (and never becomes the same block of numbers repreating over and over.)

    Pi day was a big hit at the UofR yesterday many hundreds of slices of pie were given out and the lectures were excellent. Watch for next year’s event!

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