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Math Idle

Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi 311

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Imagine the following scenario. The end of civilization has occurred, zombies have taken over the Earth and all access to modern technology has ended. The few survivors suddenly need to know the value of pi and, being a mathematician, they turn to you. What do you do? According to a couple of Canadian mathematicians, the answer is to repeatedly fire a Mossberg 500 pump action shotgun at a square aluminum target about 20 meters away. Then imagine that the square is inscribed with an arc drawn between opposite corners that maps out a quarter circle. If the sides of the square are equal to 1, then the area of the quarter circle is pi/4. Next, count the number of pellet holes that fall inside the area of the quarter circle as well as the total number of holes. The ratio between these is an estimate of the ratio between the area of the quarter circle and the area of a square, or in other words pi/4. So multiplying this number by 4 will give you an estimate of pi. That's a process known as a Monte Carlo approximation and it is complicated by factors such as the distribution of the pellets not being random. But the mathematicians show how to handle these too. The result? According to this method, pi is 3.13, which is just 0.33 per cent off the true value. Handy if you find yourself in a post-apocalyptic world."
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Mathematicians Use Mossberg 500 Pump-Action Shotgun To Calculate Pi

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  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:00AM (#46746827)
    "And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one rim to the other it was round all about, and...a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about....And it was an hand breadth thick...." — First Kings, chapter 7, verses 23 and 26

    30/10 = 3

    Bible Pi = 95.493% accurate
    Shotgun Pi = 99.67% accurate
  • Re:Um, no? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dancindan84 ( 1056246 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:02AM (#46746841)
    This reminded me of a story my wife told thinking it made her math teacher sound smart. She said that they sat down and figured out that it was most efficient to mow their lawn in a series of circles rather than in a rectangle or lines like most people do. I facepalmed and she asked me why.

    I responded with something along the lines of, "I'm sure they figured out that mowing in circles is theoretically more efficient, except that most lawn mowers have a finite turn radius that makes it impractical and push mowers can't cut while turning since they have to be lifted."

    "Also, people tend to get dizzy going in circles for more than a few seconds, so unless they employ a ballerina to do their lawn mowing, all they showed it why you don't ask a mathematician to solve an engineering problem."
  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:12AM (#46746975)

    I'm wondering if they got results without a choke, or at full choke. This might be statistically significant.

  • Research back in the 1930s discovered that there's more to that verse than appears. In Hebrew, the letters are also numbers, and the number values of letters and words are often very significant to the reading. There is a 'jot' ('jot' and 'tittle' are like diacritic marks) in the original, which here means, "look deeper". So with a bit of deeper analysis, one finds that the letters there turn out to make up a fraction. I forget what the fraction is, but it's something like 31/222 or some such, and with the fraction the value is within 1% or less of pi. This is discussed in one of Chuck Missler's research texts, about that book in the Bible.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Monday April 14, 2014 @10:33AM (#46747231)

    I hate to break it to you, but the ancient term "America" refers to the whole continent, Canada included.

    Nope - that would be "North America."

    Hey, if you're going to be a pedant...

    Ok, since we're being pedantic: technically, "America" refers to the entire landmass (made up of the continents of North and South America and associated islands). Still includes Canada, though.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter