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Jul 03rd
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Pi Day celebrated

PiDay031411_optBY PAM LOBLEY

Yes, today is Pi Day. Remember Pi? You learned about it in math class, used it all the time in school, and promptly forgot all about it after you graduated, went into a non-math profession, and hired an accountant to do your taxes so you never had to add up numbers again.

Pi Day is celebrated today because of the date: 3/14. Pi, at its simplest, is the measurement around a circle, divided by the measurement across the circle: the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. We all know it as 3.14, but the exact digits of Pi can never truly be known.

It all started in ancient Greece, around the 400s B.C., with a man named Anaxagoras, who was attempting to cleanly relate the area or circumference of a circle to that of a square. Today, with the use of computers, Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits past the decimal. It is an irrational and transcendental number, which means it goes on infinitely without repeating. I wish I could say the same for Charlie Sheen, who goes on infinitely but constantly repeats. Winning!

Pi Day is an event designed to get kids excited about math and science. It’s geeky, and geeky is hot. We all want our kids to be geeky, because these days geeks spell success. The movie “The Social Network”, starring many geeks, won a slew of Academy Awards. “Glee”, a TV show in which geeks sing and dance like cool people, is one of Fox’s hottest primetime shows.

Geek actually has come to mean “enthusiast”, as opposed to “smelly weird kid” which is what it meant when I was in high school. People will joyfully describe themselves as “food geeks”, “history geeks” or “wildlife geeks” – which means that they have a certain devotion to that topic. In the old days, the term “fashion geek” would have been an oxymoron, but today it makes perfect sense.

Schools all over the country are celebrating Pi Day, and in some cases they’re getting a little help. At Raytheon Co., a defense contractor headquartered in Waltham, Mass., the company is delivering apple pies to math and science teachers at public middle and high schools in a 3.14 radius around its offices.

My eighth grade son is celebrating Pi Day at his school today with snacks, contests, and extra credit for decorating and wearing a tee shirt with Pi facts on it. He drew a symbol of Pi that looked like guitars and wrote that Pi and music were both infinite and irrational. He may be on to something, because a composer, Michael John Blake put the number to music in a song called "What pi sounds like." I tried to bring it up on YouTube, but it has been taken down due to a copyright claim by Lars Erikson. I guess Lars is looking for money: he just wants his piece of the pie. Pi. Pie. Whatever.

Any time school has a party it can mean only one thing: mom needs to bake. At my son’s request, I made cupcakes, and we packed them up for easy transport to school. I observed that instead of cupcakes, I should have made a pie.

“Yeah,” my son said. “But I don’t really like pie.”

Pam Lobley writes the “Now That’s Funny” column. Sign up for her mailing list at www.pamlobley.com.


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