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March 14: world day of the Greek Pi

By Editor Italy

For the series “It is never too late to learn”, today, 14 March, is the international day of the Greek Pi, the famous mathematical constant that falls under most of the laws of physics and is precious in various sectors, from aeronautics to statistics!

The date chosen is March 14 because this date, in Anglo-Saxon style, is written in fact 3/14, that is, simply, the Greek Pi, whose value of the first three digits is in fact 3.14!

This anniversary, since 2020, has been incorporated into the Mathematics Day, dedicated, internationally, to the importance of the discipline of numbers in our everyday lives. The International Mathematical Union (IMU), in fact, having ascertained the important role played by the Greek Pi in various practical applications, proposed to Unesco to transform the anniversary in honor of him into the International Day of Mathematics.

The first to scientifically approximate the Greek Pi constant was Archimedes of Syracuse in the third century BC. Its first 35 decimal places were calculated in 1610 by the German mathematician Ludolph van Ceulen, who even had them engraved on his own tombstone. The symbol instead was introduced in 1706 by the English mathematician William Jones and popularized by the Swiss mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler.

But how to remember more than two digits after the comma? There are many different ways, including mnemonics based on remembering sentences in which the length of each word corresponds to a digit of Pi.

In Italian we have:
“Ave o Roma o Madre gagliarda di latine virtù che tanto luminoso splendore prodiga spargesti con la tua saggezza” or the first 19 digits of the number pi: p = 3.141592653589793238.
Or: “Che n’ebbe d’utile Archimede da ustori vetri sua somma scoperta?”

In French:
Que j’aime a faire apprendre
A useful nombre aux sages!
Glorieux Archimede, ingenieux artists,
Toi, de qui Syracuse loue encore deserves them!

And in English we find a poem by Edgar Allan Poe that allows us to memorize 740 Pi Greek:
Poe, E.
Near a Raven
Midnights so dreary, tired and weary.
Silently pondering volumes extolling all by-now obsolete lore.
During my rather long nap – the weirdest tap!
An ominous vibrating sound disturbing my chamber’s antedoor.
“This”, I whispered quietly, “I ignore”.

On the occasion of this anniversary, various events are organized all over the world, which involve schools, universities but also museums, associations and libraries!
In Italy, the Ministry of Education has organized a series of online events and quizzes: all students can test themselves with scientific quizzes, logic and numerical games. The event was broadcast live on the Ministry’s YouTube channel and here you can find news and photos of today’s event: 2022-1-200-schools-connected-from-all-regions-of-italy-to-compete-in-the-based-game-of-mathematical-quizzes-organized-by-the-ministry-of-education

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