Pi in the Sky


March 14, 2022- It is noteworthy that the ancient Greeks recognized pi, the number that is the basis for determining the ratio of the diameter to the circumference of a circle and pie, the normally circular pastry shell that has been used as a container for honey, nuts, chopped meat and fruits, since the Neolithic Period in Egypt. Pi, which is 3.14 when rounded to the nearest hundredth, was first defined by the mathematician Archimedes, though the civilizations of India, Babylon, Egypt and China each made use of the concept. Welshman William Jones clarified its usefulness to circular measurement, in 1706.

Today, 3/14, is recognized unofficially, as Pi Day. That it is enthusiastically embraced by bakers and sweet-toothed people around the globe does not detract from the mathematical awareness brought about through this light-hearted embrace of a key geometric construct. Pizzerias have gotten into the act, with even the makers of rectangular pizzas claiming to have finally “squared the circle”. Along with chess, fun events like this have helped math-phobes get a grip on their aversion to numerical sciences.

I used to be one of those who hated math, mainly because of the overly serious way in which the subject was broached by so many teachers. I was fortunate to have been flashcarded to distraction by my mother and one of my father’s aunts who would come by almost every week. In time, the cosmic jokesters had me serving as a mathematics teacher, to the dubious benefit of three years’ worth of middle and high school students.

Over time, pi has ceased to be a concept lost in the ether and math has found its way into my treasury of skills. Happy Pi Day, sweet-tooth or not!