A Slice of Pi

Posted on March 14, 2014 by Kate Lain | Comments (8)

If you wanted to determine the circumference of the pie from which this delectable piece was cut, you'd need to employ its homophone, π (pi). C=2πr, where r is the radius of the pie. If you wanted to determine the circumference of the pie from which this delectable piece was cut, you'd need to employ its homophone, π (pi). C=2πr, where r is the radius of the pie.

Tomorrow we open “Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes,” an exhibition focusing on the Archimedes Palimpsest (explained, along with more information about the exhibition, here) and organized by the Walters Art Museum. Among the interests of Archimedes, who lived in the third century B.C.E., was the calculation of π (pi), that mathematical constant that is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

For basic calculations like finding the area of a circle (remember A=πr2 from math class?), we often round this figure off to 3.14.

In celebration of Pi Day—March 14, or 3/14 (get it?)—here is a far more modern approximation of the value of this constant calculated out to the number of digits that fill an average-length post on Verso. Happy Pi Day.

Whether or not Archimedes was himself a fan of pie is for the historians to debate. But this slice looks particularly delicious to the author of this post, who is also a fan of π. Whether or not Archimedes was himself a fan of pie is for the historians to debate. But this slice looks particularly delicious to the author of this post, who is also a fan of π.


If you wanted to figure out the volume of this piece of pie, π could come in handy. If you wanted to figure out the volume of this piece of pie, π could come in handy.

Thank you to piday.org for posting one million digits of π, from which we extracted the above excerpt.

Kate Lain is the new media developer in the office of communications at The Huntington.


Ha!! That's right!

We were indeed having a bit of fun with this lighter post, and I hope you'll enjoy the many substantive posts featured on Verso. You can find a good deal of information about this particular exhibition—which looks at the Archimedes Palimpsest and not pie, to answer your question—at this link (also provided in the post for those readers interested in learning more about the show). Thanks for reading!

Kate Lain
New Media Developer

I enjoyed the lighter approach you took with the article. It's interesting/welcoming for an audience less familiar with Archimedes and his work, and, as you noted, readers wanting more substance can click through to the additional resources provided. I imagine that developing new media for the Huntington or any long established tradition-bound museum/library with a loyal core membership must be both challenging and exciting!

Driving down Sunset in Silver Lake this morning, I noticed multiple lamppost banners for the exhibit, so I came home and immediately went to your website. Loved the article and bookmarked it to share with my son and his 6th grade social studies teacher - perfect for this year's focus, which is Ancient Civilizations. And anything that reenforces key math concepts is always welcome...

I'm already planning our visit.

Is this exhibit about pieces of pie or about Archimedes. Some of us Huntington supporters enjoy articles of substance about the exhibits rather than fluff.

So fitting to have the special Members preview evening of the lost works of the great ancient mathematician Archimedes on PI day! And PI day is also Einstein's birthday! Another reason to celebrate! Too bad at the Archimedes celebration they didn't serve pie. :( So next year we need an even bigger celebration for 31415! Two more digits of PI.

All that pie is from our cafe! Mmmmmmmm. Thanks for your feedback on the post, and I hope you can stop in to see the exhibition (and have some pie, too, of course). And yeah, oh man, strawberry-rhubarb.

Kate Lain
New Media Developer

I hope you are featuring pie in the cafe. Everyday connections to math stimulate interest, generate conversation, and anchor concepts. Strawberry-rhubarb, please.

Hi, Roy. Ha, your observations about new media are spot on! And hopefully, as we navigate new waters here (whether they be of content, tone, or medium of delivery), we're finding effective ways to engage, intrigue—heck, even entertain—an audience/visitor base that is so wonderfully diverse.

Aren't those banners fantastic?? I hope you have a blast on your visit. Man, I would have loved an exhibition like that when I was in 6th grade (which probably has something to do with why I work at a place like this now...) — I hope your son and some of his classmates do!

Kate Lain
New Media Developer

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