Science

NASA Interns Celebrate Pi Day

Pi Symbol Cherry Pie

Today we are taking Pi beyond the sky – stop by your nearest bakery or serve up a nice slice as we celebrate Pi Day! 

Every year, math enthusiasts around the country celebrate Pi Day on March 14 because the date 3/14 resembles 3.14 – the famous first few digits of pi. At NASA, we celebrate Pi Day every day using the number to explore space! 

The use of pi dates to Babylonians about 4,000 years ago, at which “3 times the square of the radius of the circle was used, which returned a value of pi = 3. Egyptian mathematicians approximated pi with a bit more precision at 3.1605, as indicated in the Rhind Papyrus, dating back to 1,650 B.C. 

The Greek mathematician Archimedes (287-212 B.C.) used a visually creative approach to approximate pi by using the areas of two polygons.”  In 1706, Welsh mathematician, William Jones, introduced the symbol for pi. 

On March 14 (or 3/14) in 1988, physicist Larry Shaw held what is believed to be the first official celebration of Pi at the San Francisco Exploratorium, which of course, included large amounts of pie. The idea quickly gained traction, and in 2009, the U.S. Congress ate up the idea, officially declaring March National Pi Day in hopes that it would cultivate a higher level of excitement for math and science in students. Pi’s bond with the circle makes it accessible for students of all ages. 

No matter the size of a circle, it could be a pie or a planet; it is always equal to pi. Pi is used to answer questions about anything circular. Pi is most often rounded to 3.14, but its digits go on forever and don’t appear to repeat. 

Fun Fact: Albert Einstein’s birthday and Pi day are celebrated on the same day. 

Do you want to celebrate Pi Day every day? The application deadline for summer internships is quickly approaching. Apply by March 18 at NASA Intern.  

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By
Waryn Flavell, NASA

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