Pi Day

Today is a more-special-than-normal day for two reasons.

The first is quite obviously stated in the title:

Today is Pi day!

As if getting your eyes checked isn't annoying enough...

I dont know how all of you “celebrate” or acknowledge pi day, but we used to hold pi competitions: as in seeing how many digits of pie you can memorize.

Pretty typical, huh?

But to be honest, though I give you major props for doing so, what exactly do you gain from memorizing maybe 600 digits of pi?

Yeah, you can win. Yeah, you know more pi digits than the majority of us, but what other practical application is there? In most calculations I’ve encountered, you need just 3.14. For more detailed calculations (with more sig figs) you need maybe 3.14159265 (and even that is being a bit lenient). There’s also the handy button on your calculator or it being pre-programmed into your computer software…

I just don’t quite understand what encouraging people to memorize digits of pi will do.
Again, I will say that it isn’t easy to memorize all those digits. I’m not saying I can do it no problem (actually I’d have quite a bit of trouble… I’m not the best memorizer of digits) and I definitely think “wow. That’s… I can’t believe they memorized all of that,” but where do you go from there?

Many people argue that some parts of math are “stupid” or “useless” to learn because most of us may never use advanced math in the future. Though I’m a math nerd myself and don’t quite like the notion of learning only the basics needed to do day-to-day computation, I believe memorizing digits of pi runs in the same vein.

Why spend so much time on an irrational number? It’s never going to end… ever…

I once downloaded a document that contained 1 million digits of pi (I was really young… and curious… and possibly stupid) and the document was over 600 pages long. Plus, it almost made my computer crash (though I give computers back then were… lackluster).
There really doesn’t seem to be a purpose in memorizing so many digits except for a feeling of accomplishment and momentary fame (if you win).

I grant you that to some, that may be reason enough.

But I feel like… Couldn’t time be spent in more beneficial ways?

Plus for those of you who actively memorize, I hate to tell you this but there are people out there who don’t even need to do that.

Some people known as Savants have an amazing memory. I’m not talking photographic memory or just good at memorizing things: they can remember things at a level beyond normal human capacity. It’s an extraordinary thing that is, unfortunately, often coupled with conditions like Autism.

But regardless, a particular Savant I’ve heard of is one who knows a freakishly huge number of digits of pi without needing to try to remember. He has described it as the numbers just “coming to him” in his mind — like pictures or images that just form.

It’s amazing, but, regardless, all it really has is WOW-factor.

Of course, such an ability to memorize — for both Savants and normal memorizers of pi — can be applied to many other fields. My point is that they should be. Pi is cool and such, but thats about it. It’s a never-ending number.

And I shall now digress…
The second thing about pi day is MIT. Yep. MIT.
Now I don’t know if this has always been true, but from personal experience and what I’ve observed, MIT regular decision results tend to come out on pi day.

This would be this year's date and time, complete with a cute little email to diffuse the tension.

Of course, it’s not coincidence. Clever MIT planned this all along! At least from what I think. No one ACTUALLY thinks it just HAPPENS to be pi day… right?

Well, either day, it’s a big day for any MIT applicants
And quite a stressful one…

But in addition to the date being pi day, I’ve been wondering about the time.
I remember that last year they had the date and time so amazingly worked out. It went a little something like this:

Yep. They even included lottery numbers. Way. To. Go.

I could be over-thinking, but given that last year’s time had meaning I’m starting to wonder if this year’s time means anything. Plus the fact that it’s 6:28 rather than like 6:30 or 6:00 makes me suspect something. At first I thought suspected it was e (because of the 28) but that doesn’t really correspond to the 6. I wonder if they’ll release something after the fact…?

Then again, I think too much

Phew that was a long post. Sorry if I ranted a bit. Despite what I might wonder about memorizing pi, pi day is still an awesomely nerdy day (they should make Feb 7th e day! haha). Hope you all enjoy it (or have a normal, rational day!)

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