Friday, 13 March 2009

Nerds of the World, UnPi(e)!

To begin with an aside, being a nerd is now a cool thing, and has been for some time. So you people out there who say in your fake self-deprecating way "I'm such a nerd", which really means "I am such an enigma in the way I manage to be cool, hot and insanely smart all at once", you're not fooling anyone. Also, the fact that you watch Battlestar Galactica doesn't make you "such a nerd"; it makes you someone who watches Battlestar Galactica.

That said, today, 3/14 is Pi Day! (And also Einstein's birthday.) I'm not sure what you math nerds out there do in commemoration. Do you learn a few more digits? Play Pi Ball? If you're stuck for activities, websites like the ones above have no end of suggestions. I'm no mathhead, though many of my friends are. I hated it at school, but having had to learn to at least be civil with it as an economist (in fact, I fell in love with Econometrics. Who woulda thunk?), I realize that the issue was probably less about me and more about how it was taught, and how students are often encouraged to either be artsy or sciency. I'm interested to see that there's a Resolution in the US Congress "to recognize March 14th for its mathematical significance as Pi (3.14-ish) in an effort to promote the importance of math and science education to a knowledge-based economy and American competitiveness."

The resolution itself is somewhat hilarious in places. I think it's the 'whereas'. Here are some snippets:
Whereas the Greek letter (Pi) is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter;

Whereas the ratio Pi is an irrational number, which will continue infinitely without repeating, and has been calculated to over one trillion digits;

Whereas Pi is a recurring constant that has been studied throughout history and is central in mathematics as well as science and engineering;

Whereas mathematics and science are a critical part of our children's education, and children who perform better in math and science have higher graduation and college attendance rates;

Whereas aptitude in mathematics, science, and engineering is essential for a knowledge-based society;

Whereas Pi can be approximated as 3.14, and thus March 14, 2009, is an appropriate day for 'National Pi Day': Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) supports the designation of a 'Pi Day' and its celebration around the world;

(2) recognizes the continuing importance of National Science Foundation's math and science education programs; and

(3) encourages schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about Pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.

And I loved this interview with Larry Shaw, technical curator emeritus and former physicist at the San Franisco Exploratorium which claims to have invented the celebration 21 years ago. Incidentally, there's also a Pi Approximation Day on July 22 (22/7).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence