Sunday, May 13, 2007

The End of Pi

There's a winery in Napa Valley that boasts its own art museum. The owner bankrolls a handful of artists, then dedicates a gallery in the winery to their works. One artist uses his gallery space to pay homage to pi, with a 6-foot high LED display that shows the first 500 digits of pi, one at a time, over and over again.

Next to the display, there's a plaque with an explanation of the significance of pi, for those who are not mathematically inclined. This plaque informed me that mathematicians had been studying pi for a long time, that they believed this number had no end, and this bit of trivia:
Governments and universities around the world run computers to calculate the digits of pi, in the hope that they will someday find an end to this number.
My fellow wine-taster Bay saw this, pointed at it, and yelled: "Yeah...if they're STUPID!"

I don't mind so much when people completely fail to grasp irrational numbers. But if you're going to build a modern-art sculpture in pi's image, you probably should do 5 minutes of worth of research on it.

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