"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Reason For the Season 

Happy National Pi Day. I plan to celebrate in my usual way, meditating on the sad story of William Shanks, who (you will no doubt recall) spent 20 years of his life calculating pi to 707 decimal places. It was only after his death that mathematicians discovered he had made an error at the 528th decimal place, rendering the remainder of his work useless.

And here's a bonus for those who insist on the literal truth of the Bible in all things - note that in Kings 7:23, the Good Book implies that pi is exactly 3:
And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other [diameter]: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about [circumference].

I'm sorry, but not even God Himself can decree the value of pi to be three.




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