A fun fact for today – about 2.30pm ET on August 14 the American population hit 314,159,265 people. A number which is pi times 100 million. And a very exciting day for lovers of maths, circles, demography and pub quiz trivia.
For those of you who have forgotten your maths classes from school, pi is the ratio of a circumference of a circle to its diameter or 3.14159265. That is, a circle’s circumference will always be pi times larger than its diameter. Not only is it useful for geometric purposes, it is also a number that is fascinating in itself because it is impossible to accurately state it or write it down. It keeps on going – once you’ve written down one decimal place, there is always another one to go. As NBC News recounts:
“Computer scientists have calculated billions of digits of pi, starting with 3.14159265358979323. But because no recognizable pattern emerges in the succession of its digits, we could continue calculating the next digit, and the next, and the next, for millennia, and we’d still have no idea which digit might emerge next.
Pi has long fascinated mathematicians, with some of the greatest thinkers putting their noggins to the task of calculating it. Perhaps the first to try his hand at pi was Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes who in the third century B.C. is said to have determined the number fit somewhere between 223/71 and 22/7, or roughly 3.141 and 3.143.
Later, German-born mathematician Ludolph van Ceulen reportedly calculated pi out to 35 decimal places. His pi-pride can still be seen, as he had the numbers engraved on his tombstone.”
So really, it is inaccurate to say that the US population has hit pi times 100 million. But headlines like “US population hits pi times one hundred million (to eight decimal places)” isn’t nearly as exciting. Or cool. Because we all know that maths stats are cool.