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Pi Makes the World Go Round — Or Is It Pie?

Posted by Jason Smallheer on 3/14/17 5:30 AM
Topics: Higher Ed, bookstore events, Bookstore marketing

For the average person, March 14 is just another day. Flip the calendar one more time, go through the motions looking ahead to the weekend. To those into the scientific and numerical significance of the day, today is Pi Day, the celebration of the mathematical number representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and Albert Einstein’s birthday. Yay science.

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One of the unique characteristics of pi is its lack of repetition and pattern … of repetition and pattern. Computers have calculated the number to more than one trillion digits to the right of its decimal point and found no repeating pattern. The link between Pi Day and Einstein’s birthday isn’t just coincidence. He was the first to explain pi’s meandering ratio (a scientific method to determine the windiness of a river.) Cool. What other number has so much street cred? Take that number 12.

To take Pi Day to a more celebratory level, forgo the birthday cake for Einstein and instead offer the founder of the Theory of Relativity a birthday pie. Having taught at Princeton from 1933 until his death in 1955, the university puts on a daylong party celebrating science and the great scientist. One of the events is a pi recitation contest for children. Whoever can correctly recite the digits of pi the furthest wins $314.15. There are also Einstein costume contests and pie eating events.

Oddly enough, Pi Day as we know it is still in its infancy. Physicist Larry Shaw from the San Francisco Exploratorium came up with the idea to celebrate eating pies and walking in circles in 1988. In 2009 House Resolution 224 was passed designating every March 14 as a day to encourage “schools and educators to observe the day with appropriate activities that teach students about pi and engage them about the study of mathematics.” Really. Look it up. It’s a thing.

So today is a day you can have some fun. It’s a Pi Day Festivus with an abundance of, well, pie … and pi. A lot of it. Pecan, pumpkin, McDonald's, Hostess, your cafeteria, etc. Celebrate science, snacks and learning in your store today with the complete surprise — items for $3.14, specials for customers with the wildest hair and fire up the DVD player with episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Delight your customers and engage them on social media. Tweet them about Pi Day, Facebook about what’s $3.14 and maybe offer up the special goodie for whoever can recite pi to 10 digits. Here’s some help, it’s (3.141592653).

Have fun. Embrace learning today because tomorrow is, wait for it, “The Ides of March,” the day Julius Caesar was assassinated. Sure, we can learn from both (science and history,) but what’s more fun? Yep. Pi … and pie.

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