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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pi Day ~ and celebrating the birth day of Albert Einstein


There are days and there is today ~ 14th of March .. .. !  - have never read about Ulm, a   city in the federal German state of Baden-Württemberg, situated on the River Danube. Today, it is an economic centre due to its varied industries, and it is the seat of the University of Ulm. The Kingdom of Württemberg was a German state that existed from 1805 to 1918, located within the area that is now Baden-Württemberg  ~ and this place is linked to a great person born this day .. !!

No need to ask – how good one was in Mathematics, considered to be tough by many.  By measuring circular objects, it has always turned out that a circle is a little more than 3 times its width around. The mathematician Archimedes used polygons with many sides to approximate circles and determined that Pi was approximately 22/7. The symbol (Greek letter “π”) was first used in 1706 by William Jones. A ‘p’ was chosen for ‘perimeter’ of circles, and the use of π became popular after it was adopted by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in 1737. In recent years, Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits past its decimal. Only 39 digits past the decimal are needed to accurately calculate the spherical volume of our entire universe, but because of Pi’s infinite & patternless nature, it’s a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.  Here is how Google celebrates it with a doodle..

                                    A mathematical constant is a special number that is "significantly interesting in some way". What it means for a constant to arise "naturally", and what makes a constant "interesting", is ultimately a matter of taste, and some mathematical constants are notable more for historical reasons than for their intrinsic mathematical interest.  All mathematical constants are definable numbers and usually are also computable numbers.

The number π (paɪ) is a mathematical constant. Originally defined as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, it now has various equivalent definitions and appears in many formulas in all areas of mathematics and physics. It is approximately equal to 3.14159. It has been represented by the Greek letter "π" since the mid-18th century, though it is also sometimes spelled out as "pi".

Being an irrational number, π cannot be expressed exactly as a common fraction (equivalently, its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern). Still, fractions such as 22/7 and other rational numbers are commonly used to approximate π. The digits appear to be randomly distributed. Ancient civilizations required fairly accurate computed values for π for practical reasons, including the Egyptians and Babylonians. Because its most elementary definition relates to the circle, π is found in many formulae in trigonometry and geometry, especially those concerning circles, ellipses, and spheres.

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th  (3/14) around the world. The 2018 NASA Pi Day challenge features math problems used by several of the agency's missions, like the InSight Mars lander, Kepler space telescope and Juno spacecraft at Jupiter. NASA is inviting the public to celebrate Pi Day (March 14) by sharing a series of cosmic calculations for kids and adults to solve.

The "Pi in the Sky" challenge was created by the Education Office of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and is now in its fifth year. The challenge will feature math problems to calculate for Martian earthquakes, helium rain on Jupiter and the rotation rate of the first interstellar visitor ever discovered, asteroid 'Oumuamua. The topics of last year's Pi Day challenge included craters with butterfly-shaped ejecta, or tossed material, and the total solar eclipse. The  problems, aimed at the sixth grade through high school level ("but fun for all," NASA officials wrote), ask students to evaluate a Martian impact crater; a total solar eclipse, like the one that will cross America on Aug. 21; the final orbits and "grand finale dive" of the Saturn orbiter Cassini; and the newly discovered planets around the star TRAPPIST-1.

Today also marks the birth of Albert Einstein.  Albert Einstein was not into birthdays. The legendary theoretical physicist, born in Germany on March 14, 1879, resisted being the center of attention, telling LIFE he believed that “birthdays are for children.” But on his 74th birthday, in 1953, he made an exception. When Yeshiva University of New York requested to build a medical school in his name, he agreed—despite feeling the same way about such honors as he did about birthdays—and attended a fundraising luncheon in his honour.

“For the occasion,” LIFE reported, “Einstein shed his characteristic baggy sweater and slacks, put on a gray suit. But he found it less easy to shed a lifetime of shyness.” When all was said and done, the luncheon had raised $3.5 million for what is now the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “I am glad it is over,” was all the honoree had to say about it. He died two years later, on April 18, 1955.

Maths, too perhaps be interesting for some !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Mar 2018.


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