pi

Pi – the circumference of a circle over diameter – is a number that, while being functionally infinite, also happens to be a constant in every circle ever. The first digits, 3.14, are well known but the number is infinitely long, and Pi day celebrates the long history of this fantastic number, and the long journey science has taken (and is still on) to seek it’s end.

Pi is truly one of the most fascinating numbers in existence, and the quest for the ultimate end of Pi has been sought for time eternal. This seems a fool’s challenge given that it seems to extend infinitely in mathematical loops beyond – and nothing has ever been found to contest this. It is particularly remarkable when you consider that modern techniques have been used to calculate pi out to millions of digits, yet at no point has the pattern ever been found to reliably repeat itself.

The history of pi day is, without a doubt, intrinsically tied to the origins of the number itself, and today’s date is of course significant as 14 March is “3.14” in American date notation!
The need for pi is as old as the wheel itself, and many techniques have been tried in many cultures to capture this elusive number in mathematics. The reach for the whole of this number was difficult, with ancient mathematical cultures only being able to barely find out to the seventh decimal, and Indian mathematicians (some of the greatest of their time) could only manage to decipher it out to five.

Today, Emma Haruka Iwao, a Google employee from Japan, found the new digits with the help of the company’s cloud computing service, and calculated  the value of the number pi to a new world record length of 31 trillion digits, far past the previous record of 22 trillion – to put that into context, it would take 332,064 years to read that number of digits out loud! That’s quite an achievement, Emma – you certainly deserve a piece of Pi to celebrate!

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