Today, as you’ve probably noticed, is Pi Day. Nerds are running around with pies, jokes about geometry you last thought about in high school are everywhere, and more than a few people are profoundly confused, if overjoyed that the one shy coworker brought in pie today. So, why the love of a Greek letter?

**So, what the heck is pi, exactly?**

Pi, or π, is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It’s a constant ratio, regardless of the size of the circle, which is why 2πr is how you figure out a circle’s circumference.

**What’s so special about that?**

It is, as far as mathematicians are able to tell, *completely* random. Pi is either a number *so* precise that its exact proportions stretch off to infinity, or a demonstration that the universe is fundamentally unfathomable, depending on who you ask and their outlook on life. Essentially, we know what pi is, but we don’t know *why* pi is.

**Come on, it can’t be totally random.**

Pi has been calculated up to ten trillion digits, with no sign of stopping. Furthermore, any kind of test for statistical randomness has been passed with flying colors by pi. Pi is, by current standards, completely random.

**So why the nerd obsession, if they can’t figure it out?**

Well, therein lies the obsession: *Nobody can figure it out*. The thing about pi is that we know it works; humanity uses it every day for essentially anything that has a circle in it, from your coffee cup to the columns holding up your parking garage to the wheels on your desk chair. It’s been thoroughly tested on a practical level in construction, design, physics, you name it.

And yet, pi is also unknown. Why does it work? Why does a finite shape of measurable length need a number that extends possibly beyond the ability of human beings to count to describe it?

Pi, for mathematicians, is essentially a reminder of humility: You’d be surprised how often mathematics and science boils down to “We have no idea how the hell this actually works, but it does!” And it’s also a reminder that no matter how much we quantify and analyze the world around us, there’s much we have yet to comprehend.

In short, Pi Day is fundamentally a celebration of the endless quest for human advancement: Our desire to know more, understand more, be more. And it’s also an excuse to eat pie!

### I want more like this!

Follow us on Facebook and get the latest before everyone else.

Profile

you forgot: also it’s represented by a cool symbol

Profile

Also forgot to explain exactly why it’s Pi Day, the whole 3.14 thing. Just why Pi is such an awesome concept.

Profile

I am assuming our audience can comprehend a bad pun. It’s not like I told you to talk to me on the only day which is also a command.

Profile

and because it sounds like pie which is delicious

Profile

Man, fuck math.

Profile

I was always curious, does it still go on in unpredictable ways if you don’t use a number system with base 10? I’m guessing it does or someone would have tried it already.

Profile

Pi in base Pi is 10. I’d imagine that trying to do anything else in base Pi other than circles and maybe spheres kind of sucks balls though. Irrational numbers are irrational in any rational base though to the answer to your question is yes.

Profile

hahahahahahahahahahaha that really is a stupid question @Eatz

Profile

Is pi the only constant with these properties? Or is it just the best known?

Profile

I came here thinking this was about the movie. Boy was I let down.

Profile

I am angry that this was not a movie/pastry discussion. Lard ass! Lard ass!