Pi, 1988, by Tom Marioni. Woodcut printed in red on silk mounted on rag paper. Via Crown Point Press.
March 14th (3.14) is day and all around the world mathematicians are celebrating this compelling and mysterious constant of Nature. Pi appears in equations describing the orbits of planets, the colors of auroras, the structure of DNA. It's everywhere.
Humans have been struggling to calculate for thousands of years. Divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter; the ratio is . Sounds simple, but the devil is in the digits. While the value of is finite (a smidgen more than 3), the decimal number is infinitely long:
Supercomputers have succeeded in calculating more than 200 billion digits and they're still crunching. The weirdest way to compute : throw needles at a table or frozen hot dogs on the floor. Party time!