Today is a special day for math enthusiasts.
March 14, or 3/14, is Pi Day — a day to celebrate the mathematical constant representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, the symbol of which is the Greek letter pi. William Jones first used the symbol pi to represent this ratio, a ratio which is constant for all circles. The usage was later popularized by Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737, according to the Pi Day website.
Pi Day, officially recognized by the United States House of Representatives in 2009, not only celebrates pi, but is also a day during which schools and educators are encouraged to promote the study of mathematics.
So, what's a math fan to do on Pi Day?
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics offers the following suggestions for celebrating the math holiday:
“Why not plan a pi recitation contest followed by a pi eating contest? Make your pies square, instead of round, since 'pie are squared' is the surface area bounded by a circle.”
If that does not excite you, you could always follow the schedule of Pi Day activities designed by self-proclaimed tech geek Harry Mylonadis. His suggested activities include cooking π(Pi)ancakes, making crop circles and calculating pi by throwing frozen hot dogs.
You could also sing some Pi Day songs such as “Happy Pi Day to You,” “Oh Number Pi,” and “Pi Day Song.” (See video for another Pi Day song)
While the mathematical constant is certainly reason enough to rejoice, science and math enthusiasts have another reason to celebrate March 14 — Albert Einstein’s birthday. The renowned physicist was born on March 14, 1879. The town of Princeton, N.J., where Einstein lived for many years, hosts a joint Pi Day/Einstein’s birthday celebration known as Pi Day Princeton. The three-day event, also referred to as Geek Freak Weekend, includes reading groups, a kids’ violin contest, trolley tours of Einstein’s neighborhood, a “mathlete” competition and more.
Perhaps the most well known Pi Day celebration takes place at the San Francisco Exploratorium. Exploratorium physicist Larry Shaw, also known as the Prince of Pi, founded Pi Day 24 years ago. Each year, the Exploratorium hosts Pi Day celebrations including pie eating and pi-related activities.
If you failed to mark Pi Day on your calendar and did not make any holiday plans, do not worry. You can still celebrate by sending a Pi Day e-card to all your math-minded friends through the Pi Day website.
Happy Pi Day!