Day: March 14th, 2008

Easy as 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288

Friday, March 14th, 2008 | All Things, Friends

This blog post’s title is inspired by The New York Post‘s infamous 1989 “Easy as Pi” headline, which appeared over a front page image of illegally obtained answers to that day’s New York State Chemistry Regents. The publication resulted in a massive run by high schoolers to purchase The Post, followed by the abrupt cancellation of the statewide exam on my birthday — so awesome! — and raised all sorts of controversy regarding the paper’s journalistic ethics.

On the 20th anniversary of Pi Day, 3.14 (naturally), SYB hosted a Pi(e)-themed potluck. Fellow pi and pie enthusiasts gathered in Sunnyside to enjoy the bounty of foods that were either in pie form, or related to π, i.e., round, spherical, cylindrical or conical. For the occasion, I made a round vegetarian shepherd’s pie — if such a thing can still be called “shepherd’s pie” — substituting a combination of portobello, cremini, oyster and shiitake mushrooms for the ground lamb layer.

This year, The New York Times ran a “Win a Pie on Pi Day” contest, soliciting submissions of poems about pi (“piems”?) or pi-ku (in three-line, 3-1-4 syllable format.) The most useful of these, like the MIT cheer “Cosine, secant, tangent, sine, 3.14159!,” aid in the recall of the digits of pi. Among the the pi mnemonics I know of — most of which assign digits based on the number of letters in each corresponding word — my favorite remains: “How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics!

The current world record for pi memorization belongs to Japanese mental health counselor (ha, now that’s ironic!) Akira Haraguchi, who managed to recite pi to 100,000 decimal places in 2006. I very humbly top out at about 35 decimal places — sufficient for computing the circumference of the known universe with an error no greater than the radius of a hydrogen atom.

Yeah, I think I can live with that.

In Times Square on Pi Day:

Times Square band

Oh, and despite never having taken those pesky Chem Regents, I can still chuckle appreciatively over the existence of Mole Day, celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02AM to 6:02PM, i.e., 6:02 10/23. I leave it to SYB to devise an appropriate potluck theme in honor of that occasion. (“Avocado,” perhaps? *Groan*)

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