The Uselessness of Pi: The Movie
Frustra laborant quotquot se calculationibus fatigant pro
inventione quadraturae circuli.
(Futile is the labor of those who fatigue themselves with
calculations to square the circle.)
- Michael Stifel (1544)
There is an
even better (albeit much longer) quote about
pi that I found from the same source.
This page is dedicated to
Are you wondering why there's no
Dilbert cartoon here?
For offline fun, read The Joy
of Pi by David Blatner or go see
Pi: The Movie.
Now you can even SMELL the part of pi by wearing
Pi: The Perfume!
Pi. It's a number with some character, transcendental, irrational,
difficult to pin down. The history of pi is fascinating, and I would
find a web page detailing the events and intrigue surrounding pi a worthy
effort. (Wow! Eve Andersson, pi watchdog extraordinaire, has
informed me that such a page actually exists!
Pi through the ages
is the happenin' pi locale.)
Pi's friends, e, the square root of 2, and others
have similarly interesting backgrounds.
But how often do you need to view the numbers themselves???
Oh, Bob and I had this little wager about what the 367,129th digit
of pi is. Rather than come to blows over the matter, we just zipped
over to one of the many handy pi pages and checked for ourselves.
Isn't the Web great?
Hey, kids! Don't forget March 14th is Pi Day!
There are so many pages about pi now (as well
as pages about the digits of pi - really, they ARE two separate things!)
that I have put them on their own page.
You can, however, see
numbers that are not pi.
Yes, other numbers have fan clubs, but pi has inspired such fanatical
loyalty that people have formed violent street gangs. We at The
Useless Pages abhor any form of violence not being done to Barney
the Dinosaur, so parents, make sure your kids do NOT join any of
Here's a tip if you want to join any of these elite organizations -
"How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures
involving quantum mechanics!" is a mnemonic device for remembering
the first 15 digits (including the first "3"). Note how the number
of letters is the same as each respective digit. Clever, eh?
A more clever way was submitted by
A.Q. (Tony) King,
who credits this to "I believe the source is "The World of Mathematics"
(James. R. Nueman?)", which is good enough for us:
I even I
In rhymes unapt
The great immortal Syracusan
Who in his wondrous lore
Passed on before
Gave men his guidance
How to circles mensurate
- An even MORE clever way to remember is to memorize
- For those of you are from India, there's one
for you, too!
- Jeff has a
particularly stupid way of memorizing it.
- A crazed fan of this section sent us his own mnemonics.
Thar's gold in them thar numbers!
Further pi weirdness springs from the head of Jonathan Katz,
creator of the Where
is your Birthday in PI? page. Dave Andersen boldly refuses to
limit his users to birthdays and offers the
in which you can find just about any number, which recently improved
itself so now you can search the first 50,000,000 digits!
Meanwhile, there's some other folks who are estimating the value of
they're going the wrong way!
(No relationship to Eve) has observed that UCLA sallies forth only 99,995
digits rather than the 100,000 I originally claimed. He also noticed
that Roy actually offered only 49,980 instead of his self-proclaimed
50K, and furthermore that only the first 15,093 digits of Roy's file
agree with UCLA's, which means somebody is providing tens of thousands
of incorrect digits of pi. Thanks to Anders for his watchful eye!
He has a future in this business for sure.
After the addition of the paragraph above,
felt it incumbent on him, for obvious reasons, to extend the
odious comparison of people's digits, and has discovered that
Project Gutenberg, Christophe, and Cornell all agree with his
15094th digit, which is a 3, and UCLA stands alone in claiming the
aforementioned to be a 4. (I (Paul) hear that UCLA has an initiative
on the ballot to decree pi exactly equal to 3.2. Those wacky
In the "but nobody asked" catagory, there is
of the rationality of pi.
Meanwhile, this is the kind of email we have to put up with:
Subject: Pi joke
I thought you would find this amusing.
What do you call what happens when you cut a pumpkin by its diameter?
Give up? Pumpkin Pi! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
Olle told me about a game where you try to
e to pi, however, it only works in Netscape 2.0. Having seen it
myself, I can now definitely say that I should DEFINITELY use Lynx
as a browser.
Mathematicians are not known for their artistic whims. Whether or not
these links prove or disprove that you can use your left AND right brain
at the same time, I will leave that to someone else.
Speaking of music, Rebecca Brannon, who I think
would get along well with Eve, tells me that she once discovered
the value of pi to 23 places fits the tune of "America" from
West Side Story:
three point one four one five nine,
two six five three five eight nine,
seven nine three two three eight four,
six two six and a whole lot more.
Meanwhile, someone sent us the following limericks:
Tis a favorite project of mine
A new value of pi to assign.
I would fix it at 3
For it's simpler, you see,
Than 3 point 1 4 1 5 9
-Author was one H.L. Carter
I used to think math was no fun
'Cause I couldn't see how it was done.
Now Euler's my hero
For I now see why 0
-Communicated by J.M. Unger
(For the mathematically challenged, the last line reads
"equals 3 to the i pi plus one")
I (Steve) was just informed by some guy named
Paul that the last line of that
second limerick should be:
e^(i*pi) + 1
Which, for you folks who are still mathematically challenged,
(is/equals) e to the i (times) pi plus one.
(The parts in parentheses are optional; pick the one you think
For the do-it-yourselfer. Now, for you people paying costly connect time,
you can just ftp one of these babies and calculate pi in the privacy
of your own home, any time, day or night, as many times as you want!
Unless otherwise specified, all of the source codes below are in "C".
Also note that for the binary files you'll have to do whatever it
is your browser does to save files to disk (for example, in Netscape,
hold down the shift key while clicking on the link).
Harry Smith, creator of the Windows
program above, informed me that Pi in base 36 is:
3.53I5A B8P5F SA5JH K72I8 ASC47 WWZLA CLJJ9 ZN98L TXM61 VYMS1 FRYTC I4U2Q FRA2V
JAW70 CH6J1 53P3Z 9ZL55 UKZL0 KAPWJ YGJOU 067IY 9WNZD Z9N4J LTEDT IW2B6 5ACRP IL
9LJ 26ST5 C8FX8 S5LPS.
On a similar note, Reg Harbeck
says "If you treat
the letter A as 1 and Z as 26, then the 3 plus the first 7 digits of Pi
could be seen as spelling C.NOIZE."
And if you REALLY want proof mathematicians
can be just as loony as any mad scientist, you need look no
further than The
Search for Intelligent Life in Pi.
Other number pages
Lately prime numbers have been getting
lot of press. Naturally, they've
been getting a lot of pages about them, too. Here are a few:
Thoughts on the merits of pi web pages
Note: This page has gotten so long that I threw the comments onto
Talking about comments, here's a comment by an
reader in response to
that was published in