Somerset Times

Pi Night was ePic




Somerset Times Edition

Week 9, Term One, 2018

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In an unprecedented and extraordinary move last week, the Celebration of Pi yielded to the Celebration of Literature and so the Somerset Mathematical Society held Pi night a day early 13 March. This left some members of the audience confused into thinking that the famous and universal constant surrounding a circle had somehow been rebranded to 3.13.

Notwithstanding this set back, the evening was ably led by the SMS Captains, Tiffany Yuen, Zara Smith and Jason Adams. Jason kicked off the proceedings with a math trick involving a pendulum which he had constructed to have a time period of π seconds.

Then it was time for the π Challenge run by Debby Kuo, Lyanna Chan, Cindy Xue, Anna Georgeson and Betty Ke. Their questions to the volunteers from the audience all began with a different digit of π. Year 6 students Nicola Swainson and Natalie Mai gave a wonderful biography of Albert Einstein whose birthday, by coincidence, is on π day (14 March). Mr Wrigley followed with a talk on pie charts which included a breakdown of students’ excuses for not doing homework. He then put the e in pi(e) by discussing that other important irrational constant e (2.718…). e day occurred recently on 2/7/18 and is linked to π through Euler’s identity, often referred to as the most beautiful equation in maths, e π + 1 = 0. Brock Hudson, Desmond Chuah and Kevin Song rattled off some more maths jokes which just went to show that the old ones are still the best.

James Guy and Desmond Chuah delivered the main talk of the evening entitled Life of Pi. They included a comprehensive explanation of the history of π from its humble beginnings in the Babylonian approximation of 3.125 to the current day value with an infinite number of digits, making it both irrational and transcendental. Those are two adjectives that might be used to describe their presentation.

The audience then rose to their feet and performed Pi-lates with the theme taken from a variety of mathematical equations and they were stretched even further with graph dancing. It was then time for the popular Pi reciting competition run by Jason Adams and Michael Guy. Congratulations should go to all the reciters, especially those from the Junior School.

The number of digits completed by each one was as follows:

Aaryan Sajjad 25, Bessie Dear 30, Harry Walters 32, Daniel Liu 40, Natalie Mai 50, Penelope Deacon 50, Benny Lu 60, Kei Naito 87.

The evening concluded with a chorus of the Pi song and for those who were still hungry for knowledge, it was straight downstairs to eat hot pies in the aftermath.

Thanks go to Mr Brodar, Mr Abdou, Mr Hawtin and Mr Bassingthwaighte for their support on Pi night.

Mitchell Hamilton deserves special recognition as he has developed an ‘App’ to produce mathonyms quickly. He and I were thinking of making our fortune with the App but decided to offer it as a FREE service to all those who love Mathematics. The App can be accessed here.

The App allows you to quickly produce labels like this:


It would be remiss of me not to mention the passing of Stephen Hawking on Pi day. He is often quoted as having been the most intelligent person of our time and my favourite quote of his is, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change”. Hawking’s birthday was on 8th January, the same day Galileo died and he died on Pi day which was Einstein’s birthday.

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