Tau vs. Pi

Pi Day threatened by tau protestors

Our delicious mathematical holiday of the year is under attack. Here's why we still need our complicated constant


Drew Grant
March 15, 2011 2:15AM (UTC)

March 14th is National Pi Day, since the date (3/14) is comprised of the first 3 numbers of that kooky mathematical constant that extends (at last human count) into the trillion digits. It is also the nerdiest holiday ever, but you get to eat Pi, so God Bless you nerds.

Unfortunately, if some naysayers have their way, this might be the last fake-holiday we ever celebrate. You see, a vocal contingent of math geeks is claiming that Pi is wrong (though we think the argument is just that it's unnecessary), and that there are easier ways to solve geometry problems involving circles than bringing some complicated irrational number into it. Here, let the geeks explain it:

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So this tau thing, which is a unit of measurement for a rotation, might be taking over for Pi soon enough, much to the chagrin of middle-school teachers everywhere who are going to have to go out and buy new textbooks.

But we can't let Pi Day slip away from us so soon! After all, if we wait until 2015, we will experience a once in a lifetime, Halley's Comet-like Pi-sperience ! Check it out:

Everyone knows pi day is March 14th, but any true nerd realizes pi is not 3.14, but rather an irrational constant which continues infinitely in decimal expansion. Starting at 9:26:53 (.589... sec) AM, the longest extended Pi Day of our lives will come into action. The date, at the AM and PM hours, will be " 3/14/15 at 9:26:53.589. Days like this only come once in a lifetime!

So in order to keep Pi alive, we need to do our part. Whether that's creating elaborate domino effects in the shape of our favorite irrational number…

composing Pi into a tonal arrangement like musician John Blake has...

or even watching Darren Aronofsky's black and white creepfest "Pi"...

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We must join forces to keep the only other holiday where gorgoing yourself on cake is acceptalbe. Either way, Pi must survive. Now, can someone pass me the key lime?

 


Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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