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Thursday, March 14, 2013

National Pi Day Offers Food for Thought, and Vice Versa

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 1:56 PM

click to enlarge A big number
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Pi is without question the most elegant of irrational numbers; surpassing all known tests for randomness, it is essential for describing general relativity, the DNA double helix, rainbows, and waves. Given humanity's need to find patterns in the world, it's not surprising that pi has been the subject of obsessive study for nearly 4,000 years and that, in some corners, it is believed to hold the secrets of the universe -- and madness for those who study it too closely. For the majority of San Franciscans, however, "Archimedes' constant" means one thing...

Eating delicious pie on Einstein's birthday. National Pi Day started here on 3/14 a quarter of a century ago. To mark this anniversary, the Exploratorium has prepared two monuments, one substantive, the other suitably impossible to grasp: A new Pi Shrine will be installed for public access on Pier 15, followed by the traditional, circular Pi Procession. Then, at 1:59 p.m. (notice how the date and time eerily combine to begin the famous sequence), the sky will fill with the roar of aircraft as the first 1,000 digits of pi magically appear in the sky (weather permitting). A rousing birthday sing-along will be followed by slices.

National Pi Day starts March 14 at 1 p.m. on Pier 15 Plaza, 698 Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free; 528-4360 or exploratorium.edu. (Those who cannot participate physically may join the party in secondlife.com.)

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Silke Tudor

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