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March 13, 2009

Pi Day, and 'American Pi'

Posted: 12:09 PM ET
Pi is the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle. Celebrate it on Saturday, March 14!
Pi is the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle. Celebrate it on Saturday, March 14!

In honor of Pi Day, March 14 (because it's 3/14, like 3.14), I came up with the basis for this song, inspired by Don McClean’s 1971 song “American Pie,” when I was in high school. Feel free sing along with that tune.

American Pi
by Elizabeth Landau

A long, long time ago, it was one December when I thought I'd found the end of pi.
And if I'd had some batteries, my efforts would have surely pleased
That math fair judge, and that's no lie.
But tests and papers made me shiver with every paper they'd deliver.
More bad news in chemistry,
Just needed that time to study.
I can't remember if I cried when I realized that I hadn't tried
Before something clicked off deep inside
And then, my calculator died.

CHORUS:
So why, why can't I calculate pi
I just want to see the numbers 3.1415
And if that's all, then let's keep it alive
'Cause my calculator seems to have died.
My calculator seems to have died.

Did you write the law of sines, or draw two perfect parallel lines
Without a ruler helping you?
Can you still use a protractor, or find just one imaginary factor
Of a polynomial of order 2?
Well I had a TI-83 when a great misfortune came to me
The screen began to blur - I couldn't even find my curve!
I was a lonely teenage computer freak,
My pencils were chewed but my glasses were sleek,
And the future was looking pretty bleak
The day my calculator died.

[CHORUS]

Books, eraser, graphing paper, I was just a young number chaser
Searching for the holy grail.
Like Archimedes, Ramanujan, and Gregory, Leibniz, van Ceulen,
I could approximate, but then I’d fail!
My calculator was in a daze,
It just wouldn’t run on new AAAs.
The math fair was in an hour
And I was still out of power.
I knew that I was running out of time
A new formula would have been sublime
But all that I could do was rhyme
The day my calculator died.

[CHORUS]

“We know it’s not the pi you eat, this pie’s a far more delicate treat
And it can be so much fun.
Well, Pi is a movie, Pi’s a perfume,
The digits of pi could fill a room,
But could ever find the very last one?”
And although this poem was nice and sweet
In my heart I knew it couldn’t compete.
The other kids had proof.
I felt like such a goof!
And, as I sat down I felt disgraced,
Like I had just gotten a pie in the face.
I knew that I had really lost the race
The day my calculator died.

[CHORUS]

I met a guy in Period 3 who seemed like he could help me
At least he didn’t turn away.
My calculator looked so sad, but I know this kid of course was glad
To make me feel worse on Pi Day.
He said, “I can’t believe you were so dumb.
All you need is a new lithium.”
I asked, “What do you mean?”
He wouldn’t even come clean
And tell me there’s another set of batteries besides the quartet.
So until I get some, and it resets
I think I’ll eat some pie.

So why, why can't I calculate pi
I just want to see the numbers 3.1415
And if that's all, then let's keep it alive
But my calculator didn’t really die!

–p.s. Tell us how you're celebrating Pi Day this year. It's also the birthday of Albert Einstein! And, check out the Science Channel's salute to pi for more information about one of the most important mathematical constants.

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Franko   March 13th, 2009 12:58 pm ET

Cooking classes are getting very complicated
Calculating ingredient mixtures, complex exponential modelling of heating
Then Pi to equal slices


Ella   March 13th, 2009 2:41 pm ET

At Carnegie Mellon University, CS and engineering students write out as many digits of pi on the sidewalks as they can. Last I heard they were up to about 16000 digits. I used to think they just started with 3.14159 and then made up digits, but I have been assured that is not the case. They may not do it this year, as it is during spring break.


Anita Gauthier   March 13th, 2009 2:57 pm ET

We in Kalamazoo Michigan are supporting the Kalamazoo Math and Science Center by baking pies for their silent "pi" auction to raise money for new math and science computer equipment...Amaretto Coconut Cream, Black bottom chocolate, apple cinnamon cherry, just to name a few. Hope they generate lots of interest.


Kris ShinSho (alias)   March 13th, 2009 3:13 pm ET

I was born on PI day, my real name is in line with Columbus. I have taken notice kind of late in life, two years ago, that actually PI day my birthday reside. Albert Einstein, 14 March 1879, so in my mind we will be having two cakes. thank You!


Lily Jones   March 13th, 2009 4:39 pm ET

I'm a math teacher. All of my students are memorizing 3.1415926535897932384626434 .....Then we eat pies that the students brought. So far, all but one are enjoying the activity.


Peter Scheldt   March 13th, 2009 6:27 pm ET

We will be eating cherry pie (its in the oven right now) and pizza (pie). We will have our son use Pi to calculate the circumference and area of the pizza and the cherry pie. Then we eat 'em!!!


Keith   March 13th, 2009 7:22 pm ET

Well, as entertaining as that was, you should have set it to the tune of Styx's "Too Much Time On My Hands", as that is obviously what you have!
Oh well, it was fun, wasn't it?


J M   March 14th, 2009 12:40 am ET

I went to the Berrien County Math and Science Center, and whenever it is Pi day, I always think of the math teacher there, Mr. (now Dr.) C! Pi Day is the most important day in his calender!


bbyucca   March 14th, 2009 3:39 am ET

http://www.timeassociation.net/display/3:14


C Atkeison   March 14th, 2009 8:15 am ET

... wait until March 14, 2015 or 3.1415.


ACUITY Rocks   March 14th, 2009 11:19 am ET

Last year my employer (600+ employees) had a pi day celelbration. Beginning at 1:59 (3.14159) in the afternoon, we were all given free pie from a local bakery. Many employees also entered a "pie eating" contest. The goal of the contest was to retrieve gummy worms from a whipped cream pie as fast as possible. All participants received t-shirts with the slogan I Love Pi (It's Irrationally Fun!). Those with the fastest times received pi related prizes including a pi mug and gift cards for pie and pizza. It was a little geeky but a lot of fun!


Walker   March 14th, 2009 1:30 pm ET

We are celebrating Pi day by making pies with the Pi symbol cut into the top crust and taking them to all our friends! Love the new version of American Pie -we may have to incorporate that into our celebration too!


Ken   March 14th, 2009 1:39 pm ET

Sad Square doesn't celebrate pi day: http://sadsquare.com/post/86337543


Sandee Cohen   March 14th, 2009 2:38 pm ET

Reading David Blatner's book "The Joy of Pi". But there's an audio download for those who want to listen to it today!


Carlos Rodriguez   March 14th, 2009 6:16 pm ET

As someone who appreciates math and the written word, I appreciate your wit.

If 10 is 2 in binary,
and "i" is imaginary,
why do I feel so real?
Although Einstein said,
God does not play with dice
I just want a beer and some ice.
Surely, this must appeal
to the math gods,
who must be good with odds.
This so far is senseless,
I confess.

OK, I only spent five minutes on mine and I said I appreciated the written word, which does not imply I can write. :)
Another good book to read: "A History of Pi".


Daphne   March 14th, 2009 9:25 pm ET

As a high school math teacher, Pi Day (the day AFTER my birthday – so close!) is an opportunity for me to show my students that math is fun. They bring in "pi-related" treats (circle shapes in geometry, more complex things in my upper level classes) and also complete various approximation methods for pi (Buffon's needle problem, measuring circles, and Archmedes' geometrical methods), have a Pi Off (a reciting competition) as well as create their own Pi Poems. It gives them a chance to explore mathematics, something many of them have an interest in, without the stigma of being nerds.


Geek   March 14th, 2009 10:53 pm ET

I would suggest July 22 for Pi Day – you know, 22/7


Julie Ellis   March 15th, 2009 8:04 am ET

Here in New England, we have a sport that is especially well-suited to Pi Day: candlepin bowling. Groups of us from the University of Southern Maine celebrate by doing ROUND things: we go to a local candlepin BOWLING place, play RECORDS on the jukebox, drink beer and sodas from BOTTLES and PITCHERS, eat PIZZAS, and share yummy PIES. We also decorate a bust of Einstein and salute his birthday. Best bowling score this year won a πrize of a sparkly bouncy BALL. We've done this for almost 10 years now. Good fun all aROUND.


Lee M. VanNatter   March 15th, 2009 9:36 am ET

1 Kings 7:23
And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. (King James Version)

According to the Holy Bible, the molten sea had a diameter of ten cubits and a circumference of thirty cubits. This makes pi exactly 3.0000, according to the Holy Word of Almighty God.


Tia   March 15th, 2009 10:40 am ET

THIS PI SONG IS SO AMAZING!

Pi Day (and the birthday of the amazing Albert Einstein) has been a sacred day for me for as long as I can remember. I have a tattoo that reads "carpe diem" and I have the words lined up so that the "p" and "i" line up, and are darker than the rest of the letters. I am a teacher so if it is a weekday, I usually celebrate pi day with celebrations of many kinds at school but since it was on a Saturday, I just wore my "Ben and Albert's Pi a la mode" shirt as I did my errands. Ahhh...what a great day! :)


mouse & cat   March 15th, 2009 5:01 pm ET

my name is mouse ( for real ) and my wifes
nickname is cat when ithink of the numbers
in pi they go on for ever so when i wright notes
or cards i do a mathamical equation using pi
you take the letter c for cat draw a line
under it and under it you add the letter m
for mouse next to it you put an equal sign
after that you put the letter 1 next to it
you want to draw the sign for division
then you add the sign of pi next to it

THE WAY IT SHOULD READ IS

THE CAT AND THE MOUSE EQUAL ONE
FOREVER


Tom   March 16th, 2009 11:59 am ET

The last digit of pi is 1 when you write it in binary. If it were 0, you would just leave it off.


Mike   March 16th, 2009 12:53 pm ET

@Lee M. VanNatter: Douglas Adams already disproved the existence of God. Thus, Pi stands as 3.141592654...


Marcus14006   March 16th, 2009 4:58 pm ET

Wonderfully hilarious !!!!

I recently retired from my job as a Professor of Mathematics at a local college after 37 years.

Kudos to the song-writer.

"Pi" is much more than a number-it at least in part can be used to describe a multitude of wonderfully natural ocuring phenomena.

It is truly "everywhere".

Have fun..........................


Franky   March 21st, 2009 11:03 am ET

Awesome...so we could bust out some flows in PI day??

"Gotta have some hot love, baby this evening'
I need some hot stuff, baby tonight
I want some hot stuff, baby this evening..."

Ohh what about Take a chance on Me by Abba or the gay guys?

"We can go dancing, we can go walking, as long we're together...
Listening to some music, maybe just talking, get to you know better...

Cause if you're all alone, honey I'm still free, Take a Chance on me,
gonna do my very best it ain't no lie,
gonna put me through the test if you let me try..."

Well is something like that, LOL!! As you can see, last night the ladies couldn't handle themsleves...


Tisha   March 12th, 2010 1:54 pm ET

If we have the time, we may run up and eat at Pi Kitchen+Bar in Denver.
An Einstein-themed restaurant any geek would appreciate... and the food's good, too! (I highly recomment the German Mac & Cheese)


Dennis   March 12th, 2010 7:41 pm ET

There is a pizza restaurant in St. Louis called Pi. Good pie!

And don't forget the MIT cheer (written out for non-nerds):
e to the x d u d x, e to the x d x
cosine secant tangent sin, 3 point 14159
(next 2 lines too lame to report)


Ron Cee   March 14th, 2010 10:15 am ET

Mike March 16th, 2009 12:53 pm ET

@Lee M. VanNatter: Douglas Adams already disproved the existence of God. Thus, Pi stands as 3.141592654...

What a silly comment. You or Adams or any other supposed knowledgeable soul cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. The belief in God is based on faith. You either believe or you don't.


MarkyP   April 1st, 2010 1:45 am ET

I'm looking forward to getting more information about this topic, don't worry about negative opinions.


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