CLOSE
Original image
iStock

Get a Numerical Eyeful With 5 Million Digits of Pi

Original image
iStock

The average person knows maybe the first five or six digits of pi, trailing off somewhere around 3.141592, and even those who tout their superior memorization of the number probably only have about 20 digits to show off at the cocktail party. In other words, we know it’s lengthy, but have you ever stopped to really consider just how many digits make up this figure? It’s almost...irrational. (There's a little dad/math joke for your entertainment.)

The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam has a page with the first 5 million digits of pi, organized into nice little 50 digit cubes that march on for 500 pages. It’s staggering to scroll down and take in the sheer number of numbers, and also entertaining to plug in your phone number, birth date or other numerically significant sequence to see if you digits are written into a famed mathematical ratio.

Rajveer Meena holds the Guinness World Record for most pi decimal places memorized. He set the record earlier this year, and recited 70,000 digits while blindfolded. It took nearly 10 hours. 

There's a ton of videos on YouTube with people showing their incredible memorization skills, like this one of middle school student Benjamin Most, who kept beating his own record at his school's annual pi recitation contest. 

Original image
iStock
arrow
History
When Math Discoveries Led to Banned Numbers
Original image
iStock

The literature world has seen more than its share of controversy. The best stories tend to provoke the strongest reactions—both positive and negative—in readers, which is why so many classic books have been banned at one point or another. But even a more objective field like math isn’t immune to conflict. In its new video, TED-Ed rounds up the numbers that caused such a stir when they were introduced that they were banned in math circles.

One of the earliest examples comes from ancient Greece. A mathematician named Hippasus was having trouble solving certain equations with fractions and whole numbers alone, so he came up with irrational numbers to make these values easier to express. The ruling school of thought at the time dictated that everything in nature could be explained elegantly with the numbers that already existed. Threatened by Hippasus’s new notion, his fellow mathematicians rejected the irrational numbers and had him exiled.

Other numbers have been banned for legal reasons. When Arab traders brought their positional number system, which included zero, to Italy in the Middle Ages, Florence banned it from record-keeping fearing that they would be easier to forge than Roman numerals. The Arabic way of counting also led to the rise of negative numbers, which were regarded with disdain by many experts into the 19th century. For more banned numbers, including some that are prohibited today, check out the full story below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

Original image
Euclid
arrow
Live Smarter
An Ex-Google Engineer Just Reinvented the Measuring Cup
Original image
Euclid

Recognizing a problem most people didn’t even know they had, former Google and Facebook software engineer Joshua Redstone has made a bold claim for his recent Kickstarter venture: He’s developed a better measuring cup.

According to the Boston Business Journal, Redstone spent four years tinkering with a solution to something that had long annoyed him as an amateur chef: Traditional measuring cups, which are stocky and not very well tapered, don’t do a great job of accurately measuring their own contents. Redstone believes the shape of a cup determines its success, particularly when a cook overfills a liquid or solid by a tiny amount. The smaller the volume, the more the problem is magnified.

Euclid

Redstone’s cup, Euclid, resolves the issue. According to the Kickstarter page: “With traditional measuring cups, the smaller the amount, the harder it is to measure accurately. The culprit? The shape. Straight sides magnify errors when measuring lower down in the cup. Some have tried to solve this problem with conical measuring cups, but their results fall short of Euclid’s by up to 60 percent. Euclid is the only measuring cup with a mathematically optimal, tapered design for consistent accuracy across amounts.”

Euclid is just about ready to overshoot its $30,000 Kickstarter goal. Backers can pay $24 for the cup now, or wait until it’s available at retail for a slightly higher price to be determined. The cup is scheduled for release in May 2018.

[h/t Boston Business Journal]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios