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Happy Pi Day
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 14, 2024 12:06 PM CDT
This Is a Very Busy Day for Pie Makers
A freshly sliced piece of chicken pot pie is plated on a counter at Michele's Pies in Norwalk, Connecticut.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Math enthusiasts around the world, from college kids to rocket scientists, are celebrating Pi Day, which is March 14 or 3/14—the first three digits of an infinite number with many practical uses. Around the world many people will mark the day with a slice of pie—sweet, savory, or even pizza, the AP reports. Simply put, Pi is a mathematical constant that expresses the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. It is part of many formulas used in physics, astronomy, engineering, and other fields, dating back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, Babylon, and China.

  • The day's history: Pi Day itself dates to 1988, when physicist Larry Shaw began celebrations at the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco. The holiday didn't really gain national recognition, however, until two decades later. In 2009, Congress designated every March 14 to be the big day—to hopefully spur more interest in math and science.

  • Celebrations: Every year, the Exploratorium organizes events, including a parade around a circular plaque, called the Pi Shrine, 3.14 times—and then, of course, festivities with lots of pie. Around the country, many events now take place on college campuses. Nova Southeastern University in Florida will hold a series of activities, including a game called "Mental Math Bingo," events with free pizza (pies)—and for dessert, the requisite pie.
  • A busy day for pie makers: At Michele's Pies in Norwalk, Connecticut, manager Stephen Jarrett says it's one of their biggest days of the year. "We have hundreds of pies going out for orders (Thursday) to companies, schools and just individuals," Jarrett tells the AP. "Pi Day is such a fun, silly holiday because it's a mathematical number that people love to turn into something fun and something delicious."
  • A NASA challenge: NASA has its annual "Pi Day Challenge" online, offering people plenty of games and puzzles, some of them directly from the space agency's own playbook such as calculating the orbit of an asteroid or the distance a moon rover would need to travel each day to survey a certain lunar area.
  • A birthday, and a deathday: Possibly the world's best-known scientist, Albert Einstein, was born on March 14, 1879, in Germany. The infinite number of Pi was used in many of his breakthrough theories. In a bit of math symmetry, famed physicist Stephen Hawking died on March 14, 2018, at age 76.
(A Maryland math professor says numbers including Feigenbaum's constant delta deserve some glory as well.)

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