Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day!

Today is Pi Day; it's March 14: 3.14. Think back (way back for some of us) to your Math classes to remember the concept of pi and then look at the date again.

The Writer's Almanac tells us how some people will celebrate today: "There are legions of people worldwide devoted to memorizing π to as far as they can memorize it. And today around the world, there are π recitation contests. The world record, according to the Guinness Book, is currently held by Lu Chao, a grad student from China, who over the course of 24 hours and 4 minutes recited pi to the 67,890th decimal place without error."

Other people will have pies to eat (pizza pies, dessert pies, ah the possibilities, ah the irrationality).

Why celebrate the irrational number? I just really can't tell you. I don't remember enough Math to even be able to explain the importance. But I can respect other people's healthy obsessions. These obsessions are the things which enrich our lives, which keep us from descending into drudgery.

It's also the birthday of Albert Einstein; spend some time contemplating these alliances. Think about time and space and relativity, and what it means for us.

Or just spend some time with this Einstein quote: "The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives."

Sylvia Beach's birthday is also today. Without her, we'd have likely had no James Joyce, a writer whose work seems appropriate for a day that celebrates the most famous irrational number and the birthday of Einstein. Ah to have a bookstore around which wondrous writers orbited! Ah, to believe in young artists and to have enough money to share to keep them all afloat.

So, how will you pursue truth and beauty today? Right now, I'm listening to one of my favorite physicist/cosmologists on the radio program Speaking of Faith (go here to listen). I think I'll write a poem inspired by Janna Levin's comments in which the quantum particle thinks about the rigidity of the human, which can only exist as one thing, not as particle and wave at the same time.

Or maybe I'll just bake a pie.

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