Monday March 14th 2016, or 3/14/16 as our American cousins number it, may rightly be called Pi Day (3.1416), and we will celebrate it as St Pythagoras & All Angles Day too. Of course, when I was young (and never needed anyone, those days are gone, don’t wanna be…, sorry, got carried away!), 45 years and more ago in pre-decimalisation days, Pi Day and St Pythag’s Day were celebrated on 22nd July (22/7 UK-style) along with Mary Magdalene.
Monday 14 March is also Clean Monday this year, the start of Great Lent in Eastern Orthodox churches, a day of strict prayer and fasting. And furthermore, this day marks the beginning of the year 548 in the Sikh Nanakshahi calendar, which is related to significant events in Sikh history and dates from the birth of the first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev, in AD1469.
Other notable dates coming up are 3.17 St Patrick’s Day, 3.19 St Joseph’s Day, and 3.23 World Meteorology Day as well as Spy Wednesday and also the start of the Jewish Feast of Purim celebrating the story of Esther. However 3.25 is NOT Annunciation this year owing to Holy Week, so Christmas may be delayed by up to 10 days, I jest.
The Angle C Connection.
In 1706, William Jones, a self-taught mathematician and one of Anglesey’s most famous sons, published Synopsis palmariorum matheseos, roughly translated as A summary of achievements in mathematics. It is a work of great historical interest because it is where the symbol π appears for the first time in scientific literature to denote the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It is thought that he chose π because it is the first letter of the Greek words for periphery (περιφέρεια) and perimeter (περίμετρος). The use of the symbol π was then popularised in 1737 by Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler.
The Maths Angle.
It’s funny how the mnemonics learned as a child remain with one:-
Now I even I would celebrate in rhymes inapt the great immortal Syracusan rivaled nevermore who in his wondrous lore passed on before left men his guidance how to circles mensurate. (Published by A C Orr in 1906, the Syracusan is Archimedes who used Pythgoras’ Theorem to show that pi lay between 22/7 and 223/71) The mnemonic gives:-
Pi = 3.141592653589793238462643383279 accurate to 30 decimal places.
Other options are:-
Pre-decimal pi = 22/7 a useful approximation, but mathematically misleading since π is irrational and cannot be represented as a fraction of whole numbers.
All-day pi = 24/7 is just me being silly.
American Pie = It’s a teen R movie recurring, or that unfathomable Don McLean song from 1971.
Raspberry Pi = 3.14**@!
Piscy = member of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Pixy = Area of an ellipse with axes x & y.
Pizza = volume of a pizza with radius z and depth a, must be deep and crisp and even.
The volume of Wine produced for the Wedding at Cana in Galilee is an exercise for the reader.
An internet search will find a countably infinite number of “maths jokes”; here are just 100 of them:-
1. There are 10 types of person, those who understand binary and those who don’t.
10. Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip? To get to the same side.
11. What do you get if you cross a mountaineer with a mosquito? Nothing, you can’t cross a scalar with a vector.
100. Which Carol contains the largest binary number? Probably “Ding dong merrily on high … and 101010 by priest and people sungen.” That’s 42 in decimal.
Finally a Classical Physics question – What is a millihelen (mH)?
The quantity of facial beauty required to launch one ship. In the Troy system of units, obviously.
Happi St Pythag’s Day,