The World Has a New Pi Champ

Google's Emma Iwao calculates it to 31 trillion digits
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2019 12:25 PM CDT
The World Has a New Pi Champ
Stock photo.   (Getty/sakkmesterke)

It's Pi Day, the 3/14 celebration of perhaps the most famous number in history. Google is celebrating with a record-breaking feat: One of its employees calculated pi to 31 trillion digits, 9 trillion more than the previous record, with help from cloud computing, reports the BBC. Emma Hauka Iwao needed 121 days, 170 terabytes of data, and 25 virtual machines to accomplish the feat, and Google explains the particulars in a blog post. Guinness World Records has confirmed. "There is no end with pi," Iwao tells the BBC. "I would love to try with more digits." (She explains the process in a video.) Other Pi Day news:

  • The math: Vox has an explainer, complete with a GIF. "If you were paying attention in grade school, you'll remember pi is the number that describes how the circumference of a circle relates to its diameter (how wide a circle is if you draw a line straight across the middle)," writes Brian Resnick. "If a circle's diameter is 1, then its circumference is π. If a circle's diameter is 2, then its circumference is 2π. And so on." The seemingly simple concept has been vital for mathematicians and engineers throughout history.
  • The pizza: For a lot of people, Pi Day is all about the related sales on pizza, and Thrillist has a list of the deals at chains and restaurants around the US. If pizza's not your thing, a roundup at People includes deals on fruit pies and pot pies, too.

  • The day: The celebration of March 14 as Pi Day was the brainchild of the late physicist Larry Shaw, who began it in 1988 at the Exploratorium, a San Francisco museum. The museum explains it all here.
  • The numbers: If you'd like to memorize pi to the 30th decimal place, here you go: 3.141592653589793238462643383279.
  • Speak it: Fortune takes note of a language called Pilish based on pi. The first word of a sentence has three letters, then one, then four, and so on. "But a time I spent wandering in bloomy night" is an example of the first line of a poem written in Pilish.
  • Weird one: In the 19th century, a physician in Indiana named Edward J. Goodwin claimed his calculations proved that pi was actually 3.2 and nearly got state lawmakers to officially back him up with legislation. (This may have had something to do with math book royalties he might have collected.) Luckily, a math professor got wind of it and convinced senators Goodwin was wrong. ABC News has the odd tale.
(More Pi Day stories.)

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