Mar 14th 2013

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Happy Pi Day!


Today, March 14, is Pi Day!

Pi Day celebrates the mathematical constant Pi and is often celebrated by eating pies.

“Pi” and “pie” are homophones, or words that have the same sound as each other but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

If you wanted to measure the distance around the crust of your favorite apple pie, Pi is the tool that you would use. Pi expresses the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. It took mathematicians thousands of years to develop the Pi ratio.

Pi Day is celebrated today because the concept of Pi begins with 3.14, just like the date March 14 (3/14).

Physicist Larry Shaw officially celebrated the first Pi Day in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium where he worked as a scientist.

While the celebration of Pi Day is a modern concept, the notion of Pi has existed for thousands of years. Many people believe that the ancient Egyptians used Pi to plan the area and height of the pyramids. In fact, they could have been eating pie (an ancient Egyptian snack) while they were designing these giant structures.

Homophones are not a mathematical concept. However, just like incorrectly calculating a math problem can result in a wrong answer, confusing words can result in significant contextual errors. You wouldn’t want to be misunderstood asking for a cup of coffee and a piece of Pi, would you? 3.14 might not be as tasty as pecan, apple or cherry.

What flavor of pie will you be eating this year on Pi Day?

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