(Roughly) Daily

Pieces of pi…

In 2010, Japanese engineer Shigeru Kondo set a record, calculating the value of pi to 5 trillion digits… then last October, he smashed his own mark, identifying the first 10 trillion decimal places.  (He used a home-made computer that ran so hot that the temperature in his apartment was over 100 degrees…)

The quest will no doubt continue– pi is an irrational number that exerts an irrational fascination.  Meantime, readers can take a peek at this work-perpetually-in-progress.  Web design firm firm Two-N has created this nifty visualization and search tool, allowing one to find any one of the first 4,000,000 digits of pi:

Bonus: “50 Interesting Facts About Pi


As we ruminate on randomness, we might send carefully-calculated birthday greetings to Hermann Minkowski; he was born on this date in 1864.  Minkowski developed the geometry of numbers and used geometrical methods to solve difficult problems in number theory and mathematical physics; he is probaly best remembered for realizing that his former student Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity (1905), presented algebraically by Einstein, could also be understood geometrically as a theory of four-dimensional space-time.  Einstein embraced the geometric approach in the development of his theory of general relativity– and the four-dimensional space (the three physical dimensions plus time) involved has since been known as “Minkowski spacetime.”

Minkowski’s best friend was “mathematical hotelier” David Hilbert.


Written by LW

June 22, 2012 at 1:01 am


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