Today is Pi Day—and not just any old March 14th Pi Day, but rather THE Pi Day of the Century. Or so some T-shirts claim, showing it as 3.14.15 9:26:53. The problem is, wouldn’t that make it the Pi Second of the century? To name the entire day as Pi Day, the time designation would have to be dropped. But if you drop the time, shouldn’t the number 3.14159 be rounded up to 3.1416, making the Pi Day of the Century next year? And speaking of rounding, there’s the question of which is the correct Pi Second. Do you drop the numbers that come after 3.141592653 or round them off when determining the exact time? If you round them off, then the Pi Second of the Century is actually 3.14.15 9:26:54, not 3.14.15 9:26:53. Ignoring the seconds doesn’t work either. The minutes are faced with the same dropping-versus-rounding dilemma as the seconds are, making the Pi Minute of the Century either 3.14.15 9:26 or 3.14.15 9:27.
Of course, my dictionary gives the approximate value of Pi as 3.14159 because it’s one of those numbers that goes on forever. It doesn’t even repeat itself. So should we really be trying to pinpoint an exact minute or second for such an irrational number? If we stop at the hour when translating the number into a date, there’s no quibbling over whether to drop numbers after the 9 or round them off. Either method results in 3.14.15 9 am. We could even celebrate a second time at 9 pm—or a first time, if you sleep in on Saturday mornings. Surely something that occurs once in a century deserve an hour or two of celebrating and not just a second or a minute.
All those mental gymnastics are just the beginning of my problems with celebrating Pi Day…or Pi Second…or Pi Hour of the Century. Even if I can figure out when and what to celebrate, there’s the next question of how to celebrate it. Since I’m not a math geek, doing anything involving math would not be my idea of a celebration. My first thought, given my fondness for puns, was to celebrate by having pie on Pi Day. Unfortunately, while trying to decided between chocolate cream pie and key lime pie, I glanced at the list of ingredients on the labels, which cured me of any desire to consume either one. (I really have to stop reading what’s in prepackaged food or I’ll have to start cooking again.) The final blow to that idea came when I went online to research Pi Day and discovered that everyone was having pie for Pi Day, turning what I initially considered a delicious pun into something as stale as the three-day-old pie I almost had. Eating pie for the annual March 14th Pi Day is now more of a tradition than the spontaneous, pun-filled celebration I had envisioned.
I still wanted to mark the occasion somehow, just in case it is officially pronounced as THE Pi Day of the Century. After all, I’m unlikely to be here for the next one. So I’m celebrating with a spinach and mushroom pizza pie and blogging about my efforts to deal (semi) rationally with a situation involving an irrational number. As celebrations go, it’s pretty pathetic, especially if today’s Pi Day of the Century becomes one of those momentous events in life like the turn of a century that people use as a reference point, but it’s the best I could come up with at the last Pi second. And by including a pie chart that has no relationship to anything else in this post except for it being a pie chart, I can end all this with some appropriately irrational figures. How Pi is that?