How do they calculate the digits of pi?
I mean, they’ve calculated the number out to billions of places. When they get a billion digits out, how do they know they’re right? Just think about how incredibly precise that is. A quark’s diameter can be described in 18 decimal places, so surely a billion places is far beyond the realm of any practical scientific purpose or authentic human experience.
From a purely mathematical standpoint, pi is defined as the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter. But the only way we have of measuring such things mathematically is by using pi.
Wikipedia has this article on the subject, but I doubt you’ll be surprised when I tell you it is not helpful to me. We could ask Daniel Tammet but he’d probably just tell us what the algorithm tastes like.
Anyway, if all this math stuff is boring to you, check out this discussion thread putting a more philosophical spin on the digits of pi:
“Somewhere inside the digits of pi is a representation for all of us — the atomic coordinates of all our atoms, our genetic code, all our thoughts, all our memories. Given this fact, all of us are alive, and hopefully happy, in pi. Pi makes us live forever. We all lead virtual lives in pi. We are immortal.” – Cliff Pickover
This means that we exist in pi, as if in a Matrix. This means that romance is never dead. Somewhere you are running through fields of wheat, holding hands with someone you love, as the sun sets — all in the digits of pi. You are happy. You will live forever.
Silly, perhaps, but technically true. And somewhere in the digits of pi, there’s a version of the Shakespeare Teacher who understands how they calculate the digits of pi.