Pi. A concept that can be difficult to understand but is central to so many aspects of our lives. It goes on forever and ever and ever and ever and ever…. It truly is the number that goes on to infinity.
Each year brings with it a certain day that shares numerical values with Pi, and on that day there is a celebration of Pi. And not only Pi, but also Pie! Because the two words sound the same, the math concept and the tasty dessert are joined together in delicious unity.
Since pies are round, and Pi is circumference over diameter (a number that, while being functionally infinite, also happens to be a constant in every circle ever), it only makes sense that they would both be celebrated on this day.
National Pi Day (whether written 3.14 or 3/14) celebrates the long history of this fantastic number, and the long journey science has taken (and is still on) to seek the end of a number known to be infinite in length.
History of National Pi Day
The history of National Pi Day is, without a doubt, intrinsically tied to the origins of the number itself. The need for pi is as old as the wheel itself, and many techniques have been tried in many cultures to capture this elusive number in mathematics.
The reach for the whole of this number was difficult, with ancient mathematical cultures only being able to barely find out to the seventh decimal, and Indian mathematicians (some of the greatest of their time) could only manage to decipher it out to five.
Pi is truly one of the most fascinating numbers in existence, and the quest for the ultimate end of it has been sought for thousands of years. This may tend to look like a fool’s errand, given that it seems to extend infinitely in mathematical loops beyond, and nothing has ever been found to contest this. This is particularly remarkable when considering the following: modern techniques have been used to calculate pi out to millions of digits, and at no point has the pattern ever been found to reliably repeat itself!
The good news is that the beginning of the celebration of National Pi Day is a little more conclusive than that! Back in 1988, the Exploratorium Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception in San Francisco was responsible for launching the first celebration of National Pi Day.
Then, in 2009, the US Congress officially recognized the day. Now, it is celebrated all throughout the world by teachers, students, mathematicians–and fans of pie!
How to Celebrate National Pi Day
How do we celebrate Pi day? Why, by eating a great deal of Pie! Remember, Pies are typically circles; Pi describes circles; and through that connection we find that everything in the universe can be described with a pi(e).
As is fitting, National Pi Day is celebrated by eating just about every kind of pie a person can imagine, including fruit pies, chocolate pies, nut pies, and even meat pies!
Other ways to celebrate this most amazing and transcendental of days (as Pi is a transcendental number) include:
Enjoy a Pie Feast
For avid bakers, National Pi Day is the perfect opportunity to show off those pastry-making skills. Making a selection of pies at home ahead of time and bringing them to work to share would be a lovely treat. Or, even better, invite friends, family or co-workers to participate by hosting a Bake Off where pies are judged on the basis of their tastiness!
If no one in the group likes to bake, store-bought pies can be just as good–and quicker. Just be sure to invite others to share in order to make it a “well-rounded” day.
Even those who aren’t avid mathematicians can memorize the Pi sequence if they put their minds to it. Although, it’s not likely a person will have enough time in their lives to name all 3.14 trillion digits that have been traced out. Even so, a catchy song with a video has been created to help budding math lovers to memorize the first 100 digits of Pi.
It starts with 3.14…159…265…and so on. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zb5qdtU-Mv8 )
Visit a Science Museum
Although the Exploratorium celebrated the inaugural National Pi Day, many science and engineering museums have now gotten on board by hosting events and activities for kids of all ages as well as adults.
Host a Pie Party
Whether wearing raincoats and throwing cream pies at each other, or winning a pie eating contest, a party that honors all things Pi(e) seems like just the right way to enjoy the Day!
Tell Some Math Jokes
Impress (and annoy!) your friends and family with these punny math jokes that will make National Pi Day even more hilarious:
- What’s a math teacher’s favorite dessert? Pie, of course!
- Why should you never ask Pi a question? Because it goes on forever.
- Why do teenagers travel in groups? Because they can’t even.
- Why are math books so depressing? Because they’re filled with problems.
Sing Happy Birthday
In addition to being National Pi Day, March 14 is also the birthday of a very important scientist: Albert Einstein. So don’t forget to sing him a little Happy Birthday song while eating a piece of pie and exploring other fun ways to celebrate the day!
Do the Math
Those falling into the more math-y side of the day might enjoy researching this number and discover all the amazing secrets it hides. Once you really get to understand the depths and complexities of it, you’ll understand why Pi day exists to celebrate a simple (and infinite) combination of digits!