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Memorial Set For 'Pi Day' Creator (sfgate.com) 56

"Three-point-one-four was more than a number to museum curator Larry Shaw," writes the San Francisco Chronicle. Long-time Slashdot reader linuxwrangler writes: In 1988 at a retreat for San Francisco Exploratorium staff, Larry Shaw proposed linking the digits of pi, which begins 3.14, with the date March 14. Initially the "holiday" was only celebrated by museum staff but it didn't take long for the idea to spread and Pi Day was born.

For 38 years, Mr. Shaw donned a red cap emblazoned with the magic digits and led a parade of museum goers, each of them holding a sign bearing one of the digits of pi. Shaw died August 19 at age 78 and a memorial is planned for Sunday September 24.

The memorial will be held in Mill Valley, California, the Chronicle reports, adding that "pie will be served."
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Memorial Set For 'Pi Day' Creator

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  • great idea but... (Score:2, Informative)

    by geoskd ( 321194 )

    Pi day was a nifty idea, and I enjoy celebrating it with my kids, but I find it symbolic in many ways of the problem with our modern society that we are celebrating the wrong day. Most mathematicians worth their salt will tell you that the important constant isnt pi, but tau.

    I find it amusing that or society chooses to remember pi instead of tau demonstrating their overall flawed understanding of the correlations between math and geometry. The two are intricately linked

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There's also the fact that "3.14" equals nothing as a date, because most of the planet does not use the MM-DD-YYYY format.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        DD-MM-YYYY or YYYY-MM-DD make sense. MM-DD might make sense as a shortened version of YYYY-MM-DD. For filing documents I use YYYY-MM-DD as sorting lexically makes more sense.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's why I'm waiting until May 9th of the year 3141 before celebrating.

      • Makes sense that 3, the more significant figure, correlates to month instead of day.

        I thought there should also be a special moment of celebration:

        Month 3

        Day 14

        Hour 15

        Minute 92 - toughie, do we go for 92.6539% of the hour at 3:55:35.54 ?

        so, what do we do at that moment? Something that relates the radius squared to the area of a circle would be appropriate. As the tau punks point out, circumference to diameter is kind of clunky.

      • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @01:01PM (#55250743) Journal
        Don't worry, for all us un-americans there is a more accurate Pi day on 22/7 since 22/7 is a slightly better approximation to pi than 3.14.
        • If from Alabama, you insensitive clod! We can't have pi day since there's no zeroeth of March, amen!

          • According to some date functions the 0th of the month is the last day of the previous month. Useful in some financial contexts.
        • by sootman ( 158191 )

          > 22/7 is a slightly better approximation to pi than 3.14.

          VERY slightly.

          22 / 7 = approx. 3.14285714285714
          3.14285714285714 - 3.14159265358979 = 0.00126...
          3.14159265358979 - 3.14 = 0.00159...

          The difference in the differences is about 0.000328 in favor of 22 / 7.

          In other words, either will do for casual work. Even NASA only uses Pi out to 15 decimal places. https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/n... [nasa.gov]

          By cutting pi off at the 15th decimal point... our calculated circumference of the 25 billion mile diameter circle would be wrong by 1.5 inches.

          Which means I could work at NASA because one of my classrooms had a big PI banner in the front of the room and I memo

          • by janeil ( 548335 )
            Quick shout out for 355/113, the closest rational number to pi with a denominator less than 30,000. (Or something like that. Anyway, it's ridiculously close.)
    • by hord ( 5016115 )

      There's also the fact that pi can change values based on the underlying metric with which you use to measure space. If you use the taxi cab metric (shortest straight lines), pi becomes 4. This, of course, applies to tau as well.

  • As someone who believes in Tau (see the Tau Manifesto here: https://tauday.com/tau-manifes... [tauday.com] ), I still want to thank Larry Shaw. I've eaten many good American pies because of him.

    Tau day has never quite gotten the commercial backing that Pi day has. I blame Hallmark https://www.hallmarkecards.com... [hallmarkecards.com] . Damn Pagans!

  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Saturday September 23, 2017 @12:08PM (#55250537) Homepage
    Next step is to memorialize whoever thought of creating Pi Day Creator Day
  • Tau Day (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps now we can start teaching students about Tau [youtube.com] (2Pi) and replacing Pi in our math texts.

  • by burhop ( 2883223 ) on Saturday September 23, 2017 @12:18PM (#55250585)

    Obligatory slashdot xkcd post. I'm sure Larry had it on his wall.

    https://xkcd.com/10/ [xkcd.com]

  • AFAIK, most of the world [wikipedia.org] gives dates as day-month-year. So March 14 in most of the world is 14.3. Pi day, or 3.14 only happens in the U.S. (which uses month-day-year). The military and East Asia uses year-month-day, but they still have 1124 years to go until the year 3141.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      YYYY-MM-DD [wikipedia.org] is the only thing that makes any sense to me. Sorting alphanumerically also means sorting chronologically, and by time of day if you include the THH:MM:SSZ part.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Or you could wait for the 3rd day if the 14th month. I’ll provide the pie for everyone who cares to show up.

      I’m sure you’re the hit of your Fouth of May party, too, young padowan.

      Sheesh, can’t you allow a little unpedantic joy in the world without getting all International Sustem of Units on everyone (oddly abbreviated SI and not IS, so you can tail about how that and UTC are both a huge mistake because it’s all about you).

      I celebrate 14th March (by any spelling) by baking an A

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      You could celebrate Pi day around the rest of the world on the 22nd of July.

  • Pi squared is ~9.87, so shouldn't the date be September 87th?
  • I did not know Larry Shaw personally, and yet I am saddened by his passing. Is this irrational?

  • The US and all the others should just ditch MM-DD-YYYY. Such a fucked up way representing a date.
  • The true circle constant that we should be using is circumference/radius. It would make so many things easier. Defining a circle by diameter doesn't even make sense as there are lots of shapes that can have the same diameter where as a radius uniquely defines a circle.

    Learn something new and then tell your friends that Pi is the wrong circle constant. https://tauday.com/tau-manifes... [tauday.com]

    Still it is cool when anyone does something to promote math.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan