Maths – love it or hate it, it makes the world go round. If there is a science that connects us now to our ancestors, it’s mathematics! Pi, however, might just be the single most fascinating piece of math available in the known universe. Argue with us on this – but there may be no other number that is so hotly disputed, debated, celebrated, and analysed. Pi, traditionally, is used to analyse circles – specifically their circumferences.
However, pi has been applied to everything from pyramid building to language. It is a positively infinite number, meaning that even with all the computers in all the world, maths boffins still have difficulty working out quite where it’s likely to end. The best explanation is that it’s likely to go on forever!
Here are interesting facts about pi to whet your mathematical appetite. Did you know that there is a date in the calendar when maths fanatics celebrate pi every year? Did you also know that you’ll almost definitely be able to find your phone number in pi’s sequence – forwards and backwards?
Did you know that the pi symbol is more than 250 years old? It was first used in 1706.
The symbol was first used by a mathematician by the name of William Jones.
However, it came into popular use thanks to the work of mathematician Leonhard Euler.
That said, historians believe pi has been around for far longer than many of us imagine. There’s evidence of it dating back more than 4,000 years ago.
This is thanks to evidence from the Babylonian era – where pi was calculated as around 3.125. It seems we were all hot on maths even back then!
It’s thought that pi is endless – it’s a number that starts 31.4, but can go on and on and on…
In fact, many believe that pi can never be exactly calculated. This means that finding the exact circumference of a circle is almost impossible. This equation, if you remember from school, is Pi x Radius squared!
There is actually a language based around pi. Called ‘pilish’, this language works through matching up letters with pi digits. The author Mike Keith wrote a whole book – ‘Not A Wake’ – in pilish.
Pi, believe it or not, had more than a small part to play in the building of the pyramids. It’s thought that the Ancient Egyptians set up their iconic structures with view to the perfect circumference.
When you look closely at a pyramid, you will find that the height from tip to base are roughly the same length as the distance between radius and circumference.
Apparently, the impossibility of calculating pi is all down to its sheer irrationality. By this, we mean that it is extremely hard to pin down. For the longest time, Thomas Lagney set a record by calculating pi to 127 decimal places. This was back in the 18th century, before computers!
The current record for calculating pi is around 22 trillion places. This is all thanks to computers, of course.
Mathematicians are still unsure quite how to treat pi when it comes to cataloguing it as a number. What’s unclear is how often the digits 0 to 9 appear in the total sequence – given that it is infinite and likely completely random, there’s much digging to be done!
Believe it or not, mathematicians have actually found that 0 to 9 digits are likely to appear 10% of the time through the sequence – based on more than two trillion digits!
You can actually calculate pi without a computer or a calculator. It’s entirely possible to loop strong around a can and to measure diameter and radius. This is a very complex process!
Pi’s use in various elements of engineering and mathematics has varied over the years. However, many people believe that it is a crucial part of understanding how circles work.
Memorising pi, not just calculating it, is a different task all in itself. This is a real feat – and the record belongs to Rajveer Meena.
Meena, who hails from Vellore in India, is able to recite pi to 70,000 places! That’s some incredible memory work going on, we’re sure you’ll agree! He broke the previous record set by Chao Lu in March 2015.
There’s such a celebration as Pi Day! This is celebrated each year on the 14th This is because 3.14 – or 3/14 – represents the first two decimal places in pi.
Pi Day is actually celebrated in many different ways all over the world. It’s a great chance for various exhibits and museums to dive into some serious maths!
Pi is so inconceivably huge, it’s possible that every single phone number exists somewhere in the pattern, in full, chronological length.
It’s also thought that if you convert letters into numbers – such as ‘A’ into 1 and ‘Z’ into 26 – then all the literary works in history can be found, in full, somewhere in the sequence. It’s truly mind boggling to think about!
Pi has played a part in many different works of fiction, particularly in sci-fi such as Star Trek, and in Carl Sagan’s novel ‘Contact’. Sadly, the pi plotline was removed from the movie adaptation.
Pi is even the name of a cologne for men. It’s made by Givenchy.
Larry Shaw, a physicist at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, is thought to be one of the world’s most enthusiastic Pi Day celebrators. He’s even referred to as the ‘Prince of Pi’!
Believe it or not, there is a mathematical movement to try and reduce pi to a more tangible number. Specifically, this refers to the tau movement. Tau is a number is equal to twice the value of pi, but is arguably more consequential, according to author Michael Hartl.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about pi that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!