Listening to Radio 3 this morning, presenter Petroc Trelawny announced that today is Pi Day, an annual celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi). Following the US date format style (MMDDYY), Pi Day is celebrated 14th March, since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π. Pi has to date been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point.

A Pi pie. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A Pi pie. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The earliest known official or large-scale celebration of Pi Day was organised by by physicist Larry Shaw in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium, where he worked, at which fruit pies were consumed.

Besides maths and the sciences, Pi also turns up in the arts. In literature for example, in Terry Pratchett’s fictional Discworld city of Ankh-Morpork, Unseen University is a school of wizardry staffed by a faculty mostly composed of indolent and inept old wizards whose main function is not teaching, but eating big dinners. The University’s unofficial motto is “η β π”, or “Eta Beta Pi” (Eat A Better Pie).

Still in world of literature, Life of Pi is a fantasy novel by Yann Martel, which was adapted into a 2012 film of the same name directed directed by Ang Lee.

Finally, Kate Bush’s 2005 album Aerial features the track Pi.

Happy Pi Day! I shall be celebrating by eating a pastry product. 😀