Pi Day: 12 fun facts and ways to celebrate

Tech teams love Pi day, March 14: Did you know it's also Albert Einstein’s birthday and the release anniversary of Linux kernel 1.0.0? Check out some cool Raspberry Pi facts and DIY projects
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Today, tech teams around the world will celebrate a number. March 14 (written 3/14 in the United States) is known as Pi Day, a holiday that people ring in with pie eating contests, pizza parties, and math puns. If the most important number in mathematics wasn’t enough of a reason to reach for a slice of pie, March 14 also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday, the release anniversary of Linux kernel 1.0.0, and the day Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin.

In honor of this special day, we’ve rounded up a dozen fun facts and interesting pi-related projects. Master you team’s Pi Day trivia, or borrow an idea or two for a team-building exercise. Do a project with a budding technologist. And let us know in the comments if you are doing anything unique to celebrate everyone’s favorite never-ending number.

Pi Day celebrations:

  • Today is the 30th anniversary of Pi Day. The first was held in 1988 in San Francisco at the Exploratorium by physicist Larry Shaw. “On the first Pi Day, staff brought in fruit pies and a tea urn for the celebration. At 1:59 – the pi numbers that follow 3.14 – Shaw led a circular parade around the museum with his boombox blaring the digits of pi to the music of ‘Pomp and Circumstance.’” It wasn’t until 21 years later, March 2009, that Pi Day became an official national holiday in the U.S.
  • Although it started in San Francisco, one of the biggest Pi Day celebrations can be found in Princeton. The town holds a number of events over the course of five days, including an Einstein look-alike contest, a pie-throwing event, and a pi recitation competition. Some of the activities even offer a cash prize of $314.15 for the winner.
  • MIT Sloan School of Management (on Twitter as @MITSloan) is celebrating Pi Day with fun facts about pi – and pie. Follow along with the Twitter hashtag #PiVersusPie

Pi-related projects and activities:

  • If you want to keep your math skills sharpened, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab has posted a new set of math problems that illustrate how pi can be used to unlock the mysteries of space. This marks the fifth year of NASA’s Pi Day Challenge, geared toward students.
  • There's no better way to get into the spirit of Pi Day than to take on a Raspberry Pi project. Whether you are looking for a project to do with your kids or with your team, there’s no shortage of ideas out there. Since its launch in 2012, millions of the basic computer boards have been sold. In fact, it’s the third best-selling general purpose computer of all time. Here are a few Raspberry Pi projects and activities that caught our eye:
    • Grab an AIY (AI-Yourself) kit from Google. You can create a voice-controlled digital assistant or an image-recognition device.
    • Run Kubernetes on a Raspberry Pi.
    • Save Princess Peach by building a retro gaming system.
    • Host a Raspberry Jam with your team. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released a Guidebook to make hosting easy. According to the website, Raspberry Jams provide, “a support network for people of all ages in digital making. All around the world, like-minded people meet up to discuss and share their latest projects, give workshops, and chat about all things Pi.”

Other fun Pi facts:

  • The current world record holder for reciting pi is Suresh Kumar Sharma, who in October 2015 recited 70,030 digits. It took him 17 hours and 14 minutes to do so. However, the unofficial record goes to Akira Haraguchi, who claims he can recite up to 111,700 digits.
  • And, there’s more to remember than ever before. In November 2016, R&D scientist Peter Trueb calculated 22,459,157,718,361 digits of pi – 9 trillion more digits than the previous world record set in 2013. According to New Scientist, “The final file containing the 22 trillion digits of pi is nearly 9 terabytes in size. If printed out, it would fill a library of several million books containing a thousand pages each."

Happy Pi Day!

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Carla Rudder is a community manager and program manager for The Enterprisers Project. She enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.