TNB Night Owl – 31,415,926,535,897

Picture of a Steak and Ale Pie, with a Pi symbol on the top. Photo by Gazimoff.

In case you missed it, Thursday was Pi Day. You know, that non-repeating, never-ending number that has been used since the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians, Babylonians and Chinese, also known as Archimedes’ constant, whose mathematical symbol is the Greek letter π and is used to calculate the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter? That one.

It was Pi day because it was March 14, which can be represented as 3/14 and because Pi = 3.1415….. and well, there you have it: Pi Day.

What better day than Pi day to announce that the constant Pi has been calculated out to 31,415,926,535, 897 digits? That is a lot of Pi.

The constant π is represented in this mosaic outside the Mathematics Building at the Technical University of Berlin.

But what possible purpose could it possibly serve to take Pi out to 31+ trillion digits? For one thing, since its discovery it has been a long held ancient challenge to try to prove that no one can ‘square the circle.’ There is no root of any polynomial that has rational (non-zero) coefficients, what is referred to as a ‘transcendental’ number.

For another, it breaks the previous record set in 2013 by about nine trillion digits like Emma Haruka Iwao has done.

“A Google employee from Japan has set a new world record for the number of digits of pi calculated. Emma Haruka Iwao, who works as a cloud developer advocate at Google, calculated pi to 31,415,926,535,897 digits, smashing the previous record of 22,459,157,718,361 digits set back in 2016.” 2013.

Although Iwao was using the same y-cruncher program to calculate pi as the previous record holder, her advantage lay in the use of Google’s cloud-based compute engine. The 31 trillion digits of pi took 25 virtual machines 121 days to calculate. In contrast, the previous record holder, Peter Trueb, used just a single fast computer, albeit one equipped with two dozen 6TB hard drives to handle the huge dataset that was produced. His calculation only took 105 days to complete.

Outside of bragging rights, the 9 trillion extra digits are unlikely to have too many real-world uses. NASA only uses around 15 digits of pi to send rockets into space, and measuring the visible Universe’s circumference to the precision of a single atom would take just 40 digits.

The Verge

Unless, of course, you’re in a different camp and believe Pi Day is a lie: celebrate tau, the true circle constant instead. In that case, you only have 106 days to go until Tau Day and we will see you then!

Question for tonight: What was, or is, as the case may be, your favorite subject in school?

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