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March 14th, 2012
As I said in the March issue of CEP, I have a lot of fun with number patterns, especially dates. Veterans Day last year was particularly notable, falling on 11/11/11. My last birthday was eleven twenty twenty-eleven (11/20/2011), and my brothers’ birthday the year before was 12/11/10. So it might seem unlikely that I would get excited about an irrational number that contains no patterns. Today, mathematicians and number-lovers celebrate Pi Day — because the date can be written as 3.14; extreme enthusiasts take pi to five decimal places and mark Pi Minute at 1:59 (3.14159). Pi Day was created in 1988, and is the brain child of Larry Shaw, a physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium. The Exploratorium has a slate of activities planned, including a Pi Procession, in which each participant carries a digit of pi while chanting the Pi Day song and then circling the Pi Shrine 3.14 times. And, of course, there will be pie eating. If you can’t be there in person, you can watch the Exploratorium’s webcast on www.exploratorium.edu/tv starting at 1 pm (Pacific time). There’s a Pi Day Challenge, a series of logic-based puzzles, here. I got stuck on Puzzle 3 and gave up (for now). Hints, anyone?