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Humble Pi Day: Having Fun When Math Goes Awry

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During the last 24 hours, some Short Wavers celebrated Pi Day the only way they knew how: eating pie and thinking math thoughts. We are quite the math fans on the show.

However, none of us claims to be math perfectionists.

There is at least as much joy and insight in our mistakes as there is in our successes. This is a lesson we discussed in today’s episode about Matt Parker’s book, Humble Pi. A classic from our archives.

This article is intended to inspire you to keep celebrating pi and math every day.

The history of Pi

The Exploratorium, a San Francisco-based museum, says ancient Babylonians used pi to calculate the area of a circle by taking three times the square of its radius.

PiDay.org, a website designed to encourage STEM learning, notes that early calculations of Pi were based on measurement until Greek mathematician Archimedes applied an algorithmic approach.

William Jones introduced the Pi symbol in 1706, but it wasn’t until Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler used it in 1737 that it became popular.

Pi symbolizes the first letter of the Greek word perimeters, which loosely translates to “circumference,” according to PiDay.org.

When did Pi Day begin?

Larry Shaw, who connected March 14 with 3.14, celebrated the first Pi Day with fruit pies and tea at the Exploratorium in 1988. In 2017, the museum reported Shaw led Pi Day parades there every year until his death.

A resolution marking March 14 as National Pi Day was passed by the House of Representatives in 2009.

Why all the pizza and pie on Pi Day?

In celebration of Pi Day at the Exploratorium, the first celebration included a “pie feast” for the museum staff. Since then, visitors have been eating pies every year to celebrate Pi Day.

Our options for Pi Day are expanded since pizza is sometimes called pie.

Many pizza chains and other businesses started offering Pi Day deals, which mostly include purchasing pizza or pies for $3.14.

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