It’s pi day! Be irrational!
Earlier this week I mentioned that “this coming Saturday is a doubly special date (especially this year).” One of the things that makes it special is that it is pi day — 3/14 (at least for those who put the month before the day). What makes it extra-special this year is that it’s 3/14/15— a pi day that comes around only once per century. (Super-duper extra-special pi day, which happens only once in a given calendar, happened way back on 3/14/1529.)
I’ve written before about the magical pi, and I’m not going to get into it, as such, today. I’m more of a tau-ist, anyway; pi is only half as interesting. (Unfortunately, extra-special tau day isn’t until 6/28/31, and the super-duper extra-special day isn’t until 6/28/3185!)
What I do want to talk about is a fascinating property of pi.
This might seem like another math post… but it’s not! It’s a geometry post! And geometry is fun, beautiful and easy. After all, it’s just circles and lines and angles. Well, mostly. Like anything, if you really want to get into it, then things can get complex (math pun; sorry). But considering it was invented thousands of years ago, can it really be that much harder than, say, the latest smart phone?
Even the dreaded trigonometry is fairly simple once you grasp the basic idea that the angles of a triangle are directly related to the length of its sides. (Okay, admittedly, that’s a bit of a simplification. The (other two) angles of a right-angle triangle are directly related to the ratios of the length of its sides, but still.)
However, this isn’t about trig; this is about tau!
I was brought up pretty well, I think, in terms of having (and keeping) principles and honor and honesty. But my parents failed terribly in one regard: I have horrible eating habits. The stuff I love is, generally speaking, the wrong sort of stuff to be eating, and those wholesome and wonderful foods leave me cold. Some of them, cooked squash or most egg preparations for example, actually induce a gag reflex.
Given a choice between eating a fried (or boiled) egg or being water-boarded, I would have to give the matter some serious thought.
It’s like the old Jack Benny joke about the time he was mugged. “Your money or your life!” cries the mugger. [long pause] “Well?” demands the mugger. “I’m thinking, I’m thinking,” replies Benny.