Q&A: Why Do We Celebrate Pi Day?

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March 14 marks the annual celebration of Pi Day, a holiday that pays tribute to the mathematical constant most of us were introduced to in middle school geometry.

These days, scientists and mathematicians have calculated Pi to more than a trillion digits, but its exact nature remains a mystery that will never be solved. In mathematics, Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, but in pop culture, the Greek symbol has come to represent the unknown in its broadest terms. In honor of Pi Day, NewsFeed spoke to David Blatner, author of The Joy of Pi, to discuss the history, allure and evolution of the famous number.

(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 “troubled genius” movies)

What exactly does Pi Day celebrate?
It’s primarily a chance to have fun with the topic of math and science. And while it celebrates Pi officially, it’s more of an excuse to get excited and show the fun side of math and science.

Why does Pi remain such a fascinating topic hundreds of years after mathematicians first began using the symbol?
What’s interesting about it is that it’s technically irrational and transcendental. The exact digits of Pi cannot ever truly be known. There’s no way for us to figure out what Pi is and that’s kind of an odd and curious thing for science. At its simplest, Pi is the measurement around the circle, divided by the measurement across the circle. The idea that something so simple should unfold in something that is unknowable is baffling.

So the mystery is part of the allure?
Yeah, we’ve gotten used to this idea that if we just calculate hard enough, we’ll be able to find an answer. And I think a lot of the 20th century was all about finding answers. We’ve forgotten to some degree that in early centuries, there was the idea of a true mystery —something that is not possible to know. And Pi reminds us that there are still mysteries out there. There are truly unknowable things.

But we’ve made quite a bit of progress in being able to define Pi.
We’re getting closer and closer but there will never be an answer. A thousand years ago, we knew a few digits of Pi. Somewhere in the 20th century, we started getting into the thousands of digits. In the past hundred years, we’ve gone from thousands to millions of digits, and now the world record is in the trillions. That’s kind of amazing.

What are the main questions scientists and mathematicians are asking about Pi these days?
We’re trying to pinpoint why Pi is like it is. Why do the digits of Pi unravel the way they do? One of the key questions is, is there a pattern to the digits? Are there more 7s than 4s? If there were some kind of pattern in Pi, it might give us a peek into some underlying nature of the universe. And that’s what a lot of mathematicians are trying to figure out right now. Is there some way of looking at Pi that gives us a better sense of the universe? Because everything is based on circles in the universe, so if we could understand those circles and Pi better, we could understand the universe better.

It’s pretty amazing that a mathematical symbol has become so prevalent in pop culture. Why is that?
In my research, I was just amazed at how many places Pi shows up from cartoons to movies. It just kept popping up. I don’t think people care so much about 3.14 and whatever—what people really care about is what Pi means. And the fascination and lure of Pi really is this sense of mystery that it points to. This idea that everybody knows about it, but nobody knows what it is. When you’re faced with the unknowable and it’s right at the heart of math and science, it just kind of tickles people.

(More on TIME.com: See the best pictures of the week)

130 comments
vinaybps
vinaybps

Dear Time, Please remove Modi, Kejriwal, and Rahul from your list. As they are not getting votes because they have done big things or are destined to. They are getting votes because its @#*&% elections in India. And they all have gone berserk.

HarishSingh
HarishSingh

Modi ji supporter at Varanasi & voting all over India while Aaptards sitting here on Time. LOL 

SanjeevGupta
SanjeevGupta

Let's look at some final result available at http://time.com/73538/indian-politician-arvind-kejriwal-wins-time-100-readers-poll/ to drive home the point that supporters of both Modi and Kejriwal tried to inflate the Yes votes.  32 lac was the final official figure of all total votes out of which Arvind and Modi secured 2.611 lac Yes and 1.646 lac Yes respectively.  Now, look at the screen shot when the polling closed at 1159 hours EST yesterday. The screen shot captured by me shows that Kejriwal got 15.31 lac Yes votes and Modi got Yes 42.30 lac Yes votes!! Obviously these politicians' detractors won't give them positive votes.  Hence, both sides indulged in fake voting using bots though Kejriwal did it to a lesser extent. I expected better ethical standards by Arvind Kejriwal's supporters as that is ostensibly the plank on which the party has risen. 


Fake voting was frenetic and hacking attempts so rampant that even Time Servers also got fooled for some time at least


·I have screen shots which gives comparative positions at about 02:30 a.m. and 09:30 a.m. (IST) (when voting closed). 

·At about 02:30 a.m. Modi had 38,27,925 votes with 52.8% Yes i.e. about 20.21 lac votes

·In order to have 50,61,881 votes with 83.6% Yes, total Yes votes needed were 42.31 lacs

So, at least 22.10 lac votes should have been cast between two points of time. Lo and behold…number of votes cast is only 12.34 lacs!!


Bizarre statistical patterns (including temporal variations) can be debated but arithmetical impossibilities ought not to have been allowed to remain on Time website for more than 12 hours.  Time Magazine still deserves kudos in weeding out fake votes.  I am assuming that they used internationally accepted norms norms (like unique real IPs) while doing so. 

PuneetGarg
PuneetGarg

If times have any shame, they should clarify, why they intentionally reversed the results all of sudden, Shame on time magzine

PuneetGarg
PuneetGarg

Time is cheating, I was closely following this voting, I have screen shots also at time when voting was closed, and at that time clear winner was Narender Modi, suddenly after 5 minutes they changed this results, This is horrible to understand that this media is partial towards a particular political believe, I will publish these screen shot, these are with date and time. 

kuldeeptomer
kuldeeptomer

SHAME !!!  SHAME ON TIME!!. Didn't expect this from TIME atleast. What kind of poll it was? I watched the numbers just before the poll was about to close the % for narendra modi were 70.3% yes and 29.7% No.  With little over 49 lakh votes. Same for Arvind Kejriwal were 49.7% yes and 50.3 % No. with little over 30 lakh votes. How their percentage got reversed in a matter of minutes?

deepthirangan81
deepthirangan81

 The war has always  always between honesty vs lies. the people's faces change but the war continues between those two values timelessly . Arvind kejriwal we respect you for being so courageous and honest inspite of many obstacles ,you are trying to educate and open people's heart, appeal to their own true inner guidance , thank you for being bravely you. whether Time recgonises you or not , it does not matter. what matters is TRUTH . Which cannot be ignored, neither it depends on external validity. it is self evident and speaks for it self. We must save india from  communal /crimal /dividers like Modi. I often am openminded about people never judge anyone fromtheir past, but Modi has evaded , avoided any questions regarding his past , never clarified his stance on what he did during gujrat riots,i cannot say if he was sorry for what happened, i feel he has not changed. he still believes his murderous actions were right. that is very dangerous. He comes from an organization which worships hitler. Many modi lovers are not aware of it , and some are fanatics.   The world does not need anymore wars, it needs peace and truth. LOVE. may peace and harmony , truth prevail in the world. Btw MALALA is an amazing human , she is courageous in her battle against taliban , just as Arvind in his battle against corruption and communal violence. great souls they are like Gandhiji.

arun_12170
arun_12170

Time is cheating...today morning i saw on my android 80% yes votes have been casted in favour of Narendra modi. I also voted yesterday night before voting closed then it was showing 55 % yes votes. and suddenly now it became 49 % yes...this drop down in yes votes and that too after voting closed...We didnt hope this from TIME...its a conspiracy against Narendra Modi...


OsteenSparkle
OsteenSparkle

modi ki hogai har..... abki bar kejri sarkar :P

Nalayakvoter
Nalayakvoter

AAP Retards think- Every indian citizen can be brainwashed bribed for votes....think people too can hack , See how hard the reality of defeat for AK-49 in varanasi...

ashutosh69
ashutosh69

Massive rigging happening. 1.5 million votes casted for Namo in last 2 hrs and almost equal amount of no votes in AK. Hopefully they correct all these bogus votes by Vote bots like they did today. Point is these idiots seem to have forgotten that the poll closed 3 hrs ago when AK was leading in Yes votes and Namo was leading in No votes


JamesZeno
JamesZeno

"I support NaMo" has 2.1 Million likes .. and NaMo's page itself has 13 Million likes .. .. and these nagging babies really think its impossible for Modi to get so many votes? XDXD Its just that Modi's supporters found out late about this poll or trust me .. the total would have reached at least 10 Million. There are at least 100 million FB users in India and 13 Million of them are NaMo's supporters on FB  .. you do the math.

upraiblr
upraiblr

The winner is .....any guess...Modi's paid hackers..

SanjeevGupta
SanjeevGupta

 What's going on, Time Magazine?  Are you really serious about this poll? Has anyone bothered to check the incredible speed at which votes are being cast for Mr Narendra Modi and Mr Arvind Kejriwal? Apparently, these are Bots or some other cyber tricks at work which exploit overly simple process of signing in. Has anyone in your Editorial Desk noticed the way ratios of Yes and NO for the same candidate have been varying drastically from one extreme to another - resulting in fluctuations which are arithmetical impossibilities?  There appears to be a mad rat race between the persons responsible for cyber-publicity of Mr. Modi and Mr. Kejriwal and I am not sure whether these two leaders even know how grotesque has been this effort and how adversely it is affecting them vis-à-vis unbiased observers. Moreover, doesn't the total number of votes cast among for three Indian politicians as compared to other leaders from different parts of the world rattle anyone?  I know that India has huge population and political atmosphere is surcharged due to ongoing elections, but these numbers and their bewildering rate of change are on the verge of being unbelievable. Can Time Magazine have nearly 35 lac unique readers of its online edition who will be interested voting at an unprecedented (actually mind boggling) pace? Please wake up Time Magazine. Your credibility is at stake. I feel sad that Indians are indulging in these seemingly cheap gimmicks. We should put our IT prowess to better use than falling prey to these shenanigans.  

sudarshanasudi
sudarshanasudi

13 million f/b followers of NARENDRA MODI votes for him ,then what??? why aap supporters crying foul ! point is this poll is global,not for delhi city corporation ,,,........entire country confused who lead corrupt regieme nda ya upa ;;its funny that aap is aligning with cong ,fighting against opposition party ; the grand plan of splitting anti upa votes fall flat b'coz they tried to run govt with cong ,resulted in loss of trust credibility ;;;last delhi election nobody won;cong routed ,no doubt bjp largest.aap 2nd ';reason 15 yr antiincumbency of state,10 yr of central +anna hazare agitation+cwg,2g,3g,coal.helicopter....all scams ;;but above all ''sri nirbhaya ''incident motivated voters to throw cong out of power atleast for one decade,;; imagine if aap avoided ally with cong ,people definately believed aap ;;so sad aap ;;game over ;;;sad part is no-one in near future going to believe any anticorruption crusaders even if they are honest ; unfortunate ;;;  

shihabudheen
shihabudheen

Modi and his party workers proved that they are the Biggest FAKES in the world

KamalNayanDeori
KamalNayanDeori

Again same thing happening .... Arvind Kejriwal's no vote increasing dramatically and Narendra Modi's yes votes... something going wrong to this poll, Time please look into the matter.

xinkingpin228
xinkingpin228

Kejriwal was slapped by a person who voted for him and was utterly  disappointed with Kejriwal's bad governance.

Common Man had turned angry and slapped Kejriwal.These are capabilities of so called influential person.
I don't these media house even check before listing on it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBzS23bc_ns

truepatriot99
truepatriot99

He was slapped again and again by the locals because he failed to fulfill the promises he made.

Most impotent CM in India.

SajanGeorge
SajanGeorge

Please use captcha security check.... somebody using fake voting ..check narendra modi status...

sanjay_nift
sanjay_nift

whole sanctitiy of poll gone for toss after 1.30 AM on 21st night were total votes polled for modi were 85K with 80% saying NO , suddenly BJP bots take over and until now in less than 36 hours total votes polled for modi stands at 1 million + , and most standing positive means in less than 36 hours whole world got so much fancy of modi every one casted yes for him and every one casted No for AK , 


INFACT TIME DID CORRECT THE ANOMALY PARTIALLY ONCE LAST NIGHT AT 2.30 NULLYFYING BOGUS VOTES MAKING AK WITH 75% YES VOTES AND MODI JUST 40% YEAS VOTES  , HOPE THEY DO IT ONCE AGAIN !!  

Suchitra
Suchitra

people who are saying fraudulent voting don't understand that India has a population of 1,220,000,000 people so 1 million or around 10 lac votes are more likely possible for both Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal. Change of 100 votes per second is more likely possible because most of the people are are voting at the same time since digits  change one by one it looks kind of very fast..in this digital clock number doesn't jump from 1 to 100 directly...it moves through all digits very fast. Also india has more than 100 million facebook users. so considering 2% of them voting number looks more reliable to me. Also indian people take darn interest when west is taking any kind of a poll where indians appear in top list. Votes would have looked unreliable if they where in order of 50 millions. So, revise your thinking people. If you go back and check votes earned by each of the previous indians who managed to be a part of this list you will realize that they always had higher votes i mean in a house of a half million. 

IN_DI_AN
IN_DI_AN

@ashutosh69  The poll Closes US Time .. You proved yourself to be a Typical AAPTARD RETARD


and in case you do not know


YOUR KEJRIWAL HAD PUT SOMNATH BHARTI .. A KNOWN SPAMMER AND PORN SITE VENDOR AS LAW MINISTER OF DELHI ..


I AM SURE YOU WUDN'T EVEN MUSTER UP COURAGE TO REFUTE THIS CLAIM COZ .. THE PROOF, (HIS SIGNED DOCUMENTS AND PAYMENT OF PENALTIES)  IS EVERY WHERE IN NEWSPAPERS AND NEWS WEBSITES ..

ramustad
ramustad

@upraiblr the losers are AK'S PAID HACKERS.nEXT TIME HIRE BETTER ONES

shaheen
shaheen

@SanjeevGupta  If they deletes all fake votes. Kejriwal would have won by a big margin.

CMBharat
CMBharat

@MaNa  english ka to band bajna hi chahiye...... AB hindi lao, desh bachao.....

shaheen
shaheen

@xinkingpin228  abey mare hue kauwe ke pankh, us auto driver ne kejriwal se sorry bhi keh diya..  woh news bhi paste kar yahaan pe bandar.

xinkingpin228
xinkingpin228

@MaNa Karan Thapar is one of the least icredible journalists and his mates are Rajdeep Sardesai,Barkha Dutt,Ridhi Nazdan,Arnab  Goswami.Everyone's agenda is one---Stop Modi.When it comes to this video it is apparent that it was being cut at regular intervals and only selected parts were taken.Of Kejridog is really a credible leader he doesn't have to hire an IT cell to increase vote count.It shows how insecure Kejridog is.

He hasn't held any post properly and all of a sudden he wants to become the PM of India/

Shame on you AAP.it is not common man's party It is the party of loco's.We want congress and AAP free India.

RumpulStiltskin
RumpulStiltskin

@MaNa  Console yourself with edited and fabricated things about Modi. No one can stop him from becoming India's PM. And it doesn't matter much to be in top 100 list of TIME. The moment he becomes the PM, he will be the most reputed and famous person in the world. So what I mean to say is Congress and Kejriwal has 25 more days to enjoy till the elections results are out. :-)

alexbradshaw8
alexbradshaw8

@MaNa This video is fabricated and most of the parts are apparently cut.Let Modi come to power and trash Kejrifart.

You people might rig this biased TIME polls but you cannot rig the EVM's in India.Let them answer/

The purpose of your party is to keep corruption at bay.you did everything except that.Kejrifart was never in the office.He was busy pelting stones at the BJP office.

Modi has been a clean politician who was not even charged with single corruption case that too congress being in the power.

AAP has totally deviated itself from its principles and started creating instability in India.

shaheen
shaheen

@truepatriot99  he is slapped by common people for for petty cases, while bigg robbers and goons are still patrolling in the country streets. If any one had slapped COngress or BJP ministers, uski aisi taisi kar denge . But Kejriwal didnt done anything like that..True Politician.

RumpulStiltskin
RumpulStiltskin

@sanjay_nift  Why are you not talking about the bots running in favour of Kejriwal? Be fair in your accusation.

alexbradshaw8
alexbradshaw8

@Suchitra If that many poeple are against Modi it is not possible for BJP to come in to the power.But the surveys are very clear that the BJP will be forming the Govt and Modi is going to be the PM.

Congress even try to suppress Modi in TIME's poll too.Nobody is idle like you sitting at home.People are busy with their works.We all know how biased Western media is when it comes to Modi. The Economist,The Guardrian and now TIME.

It is joke to say that Kejriwal to be the most influential guy.

When the country is talking about the Modi wave,how come Kejriwal be that "influential" guy.The only influence anyone can see "Money Influence"

For  the political parties (Congress,DMK,AIADMK,CPM,CPI,SP,BSP,JDU,JDS)it atleast took few years i.e 5 years to get worse in the politics but for Kejriwal it took only 1 day to be as corrupt as Congress party.

India don't want anyone like Kejriwal 

Let the real time answer.Fabricated polls will not help anyone.This will be another media stunt and will fail jsut like it failed in Delhi.

mokambo
mokambo

@Suchitra time has 698026 fb followers in US, followers from India is 478464. Number of fb users in US alone is more than 140 million, still u need to count UK and rest of europe. Now, having these data at hand look at the votes received by other popular world personalities vs Indian leaders. even satya nadella is quite popular in India but with just 3000 responses.

ashutosh69
ashutosh69

@ProbeerDas  Who was rigging was pretty clear when the magazine corrected the bogus votes in one tranch which perhaps they will do again. Thanks to the propaganda machinery at work.

RumpulStiltskin
RumpulStiltskin

@ProbeerDas  What about fake voting by Kejriwal? Post that video also brother :) By the way if it is to console yourself for the expected landslide in the election results, keep doing it ;-) We all know who is the real saviour for India.

traits555
traits555

@ProbeerDas Kejrifart might rig these polls but he cannot rig the EVM machines used for polling in India.Modi is India's next PM

Fiona2Donovan
Fiona2Donovan

@deepthirangan81 @arun_12170if they had taken away fake votes,why would the "reaction" numbers be the same?

This is not the first time that media is against Modi,Let us see what will happen on May16.

Had Arvind got more"no's" you would have cried that TIME was being unfair.


shaheen
shaheen

@RumpulStiltskin @sanjay_nift  All bot votes should be probed. If that happened. Kejriwal would win by a big margin. He was leading with a big margin until last friday.

shaheen
shaheen

@IN_DI_AN @ashutosh69  and Modi is supported all communalists and corporates in the country..H even had HI tech employees working 24*7 for creating fake popularity for him. Feku

IN_DI_AN
IN_DI_AN

@ashutosh69  


AAP is supported by disturbed educated pseudo-intellectuals with complexes,ego issues,misplaced outrage over trending social conditions giving access to quick media exposures giving opportunity to come out of oblivious situations

ashutosh69
ashutosh69

@IN_DI_AN @ashutosh69   Yeah .. just that if every citizen of the country sported that kind of ID virtually everyone would be anonymous.  Also it wd be difficult to find the "Retard Index" as was previously mentioned.  Its quite easy to shoot and scoot anonymously. If one were to go by the rhetorics being splashed- one should only be talking about the leaders otherwise there are just too many facts out there about different individuals with various records and defining their party policies in their speeches which I am sure is harming some of the bigger parties much more

IN_DI_AN
IN_DI_AN

@ashutosh69 @IN_DI_AN  


I am pretty proud of India and so thats why the ID says so .. don't know if you find anything derogatory .. but amazingly you have nothing to say about Kerjiwal putting a spammer as Law Minister