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This coming Saturday is International Pi Day. No, that’s not a typographic error. Pi, not pie, regardless of flavour. Or maybe pi. Usually represented by π, a Greek letter that looks like a wobbly footstool.
It’s on March 14, because if you write it as 3/14, or better yet as 3.14, you have the first three digits of pi. Correctly, pi is 3.141592 plus an endless series of further decimals, but for most purposes, 3.14 will suffice.
But then, pi can never be precise. Mathematicians have calculated pi to 13.3 trillion decimal digits, and they’re firmly convinced that it will never – no, never – repeat a pattern. Which means that no matter how precisely they define pi, the next digit will be unpredictable.
So pi is at once a constant, and a variable.
And yet the universe could not exist without it.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: mathematics, astronomy, value, pi
I’m sitting in a chair. No, that’s not quite right. I think I’m sitting in a chair, but quantum physics tells me there’s really no chair there at all, just infinitesimal packets of energy whizzing around that can only be described as probabilities… And of course, I’m also just a collection of probabilities. So there’s no me sitting in something that isn’t a chair.
It makes me wonder who or what is the “I” that’s wondering all these things.
At the other end of reality, I learn about a universe that’s some 14 billion years old, and more than 28 billion light-years across. Like an ancient psalm writer, I wonder, “Who am I, that anyone should think I matter?”
I can’t comprehend a billion of anything, whether time or distance.
Tags: bubbles, quantum physics, astronomy, dark matter, Abrams