For most people, March 14 is just another day.
But for math fans and self-proclaimed nerds out there, the
day -– or more specifically, the fact it is 3/14 -– is a day to celebrate one of
the most important numbers in all of mathematics: Pi.
So what better way for Pi fans to celebrate Pi Day than with … pie?
A minute before 2 a.m. on Thursday, students at Caltech in
Pasadena dug into 130 pies laid out for them outside student housing. There
were 26 each of five different pies. Follow that? So on 3/14 at 1:59 a.m. there
were 26 each of five kinds of pie. None is by chance. The first digits
of Pi are 3.14159265.
“It’s a celebration of nerdiness,” said Christopher Perez,
president of Caltech’s math club. “Pi literally shows up everywhere -- in
science, in math and nature. A circle is such a fundamental concept.”
You remember Pi, right? It’s that Greek symbol that roughly
looks like a lowercase “n” that math teachers told you to just punch into the
calculator as 3.14. Actually, the numbers carry on much farther than that. Pi,
which is used to calculate the circumference of a circle, has no end to its
But supercomputers have so far calculated the number out to
10 trillion. That’s 10,000,000,000,000.
“This was perfect because Caltech students never sleep,” said
Jeffrey Sherman, who is studying electrical engineering. Sherman’s hair was
still soggy from having a cherry pie mashed in his face when the free-for-all
A school official estimated 500 of the university’s 800
undergrads participated in the early morning Pi party. The celebration lined up
with the end of classes for Caltech students, who now prepare for finals next
The other pie flavors were chocolate cream, cookies and
cream, blueberry and apple.
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-- Joseph Serna in Pasadena
Photo: Students dig into what little pie remains at Pi day at Caltech; Credit: Joseph Serna / Los Angeles Times