The final word I think is Homer Simpson’s response to the great number: “Hmmm, pie…” ]]>

Pi is often seen as dealing with cirlces, but mathematically it’s found in equations dealing with periodic motion, such as pendulums and waves, be they sound, light, etc. It’s also found as a geometric parameter in various equations of forces – anyone remembering Coulomb’s law that describes the force between electrically charged particles will be aware of a 1/4Pi part that describes the sphere over which the force acts. Pi is also found in equations of quantum mechanics, electronic filters, radar systems, etc etc. The value of Pi is not simply 22/7 but the cornerstone of much of our description of reality.

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In primary school we were taught the rational approximation 22/7, which was useful in the days before calculators.

Second, that Congress woman is not the first to try to impose pi=3. In 1897, Representative T.I. Record of Posen county introduced House Bill #246 in the Indiana House of Representatives to the same effect. Some fundamenatlist Christians like this as there is a passage in the Bible: “And he [Hiram] 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

that suggests that the ratio of the circumference to diameter is three.

Third, re that student -where ignorance is bliss….

Tell that student that he obviously has no need for circular objects in his life

Stories about attempts to establish the value of pi by legislation have been doing the rounds for a while, especially about various US States declaring pi = 3. It seems that the grain of truth at the bottom of them relates to a bill that was almost passed in Indiana in 1897. An amateur mathematician called Edwin Goodwin attempted to have his (erroneous, of course) solution to the ancient “Squaring the Circle” problem enshrined in State Law. The bill, which can be read here http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/crd/Localgov/Second%20Level%20pages/Indiana_Pi_Story.htm does not make any explicit reference to the value of pi, but a consequence of Goodwin’s contrivances apparently would have been pi=3.2.

Good luck in Scotland!

Rachel. ]]>