Monday, March 14, 2011

π = Us

On this, the fourteenth day of March, nerds, geeks, dorks, dweebs, techies and Poindexters (as well as any other group of intellectually heightened, socially stunted group of people I neglected to mention) around the world are celebrating Pi Day. Trying to think of the myriad ways they are celebrating would be like trying to extrapolate the number they are celebrating to an extra decimal place. Some might be playing games involving who can calculate various measurements of circles or spheres the fastest. Others might be baking a pi(e) order making their own pi(zza).

If you are doing any of these to celebrate, I commend you. However, I would like you to consider celebrating an aspect of π that I think often goes unappreciated. It is the philosophical side of the number.

π mirrors life. It does so in that it is irrational and never repeating. This is precisely what makes it mysteriously beautiful, majestic and daunting all at the same time. We are first exposed to it in grade school Geometry, yet some of the greatest mathematical minds in the world agonize over trying to better define this same number. π is used in equations. Equations which we depend on to absolutely define aspects of the universe around us. Yet it is never ending.

Should you attempt to find the ultimate answer to π, you will embark on an endless quest. It goes on forever whether you feel you have satisfactory knowledge of it or not. It stretches out to an infinite number of decimal places, places we cannot comprehend and could never hope to see in one lifetime. It is the mathematical expression of the universe itself as well as our human potential. Always present. Ever expanding. Its boundaries are unreachable.

I think the appreciation of π is important. If you can see its irrationality as beauty, you may be able to do the same with the things that tend to frustrate you in your own life. When that co-worker three cubicles down insists on performing their irrational habit of creaking their chair repeatedly while typing, just think, That person may be irrational, but so is π, and without π, we wouldn’t have a perfect circle, and perfect circles are pretty freakin’ cool. If you can do that, you can see beauty everywhere.

So love the irrational, at least for today. Celebrate that which you know you will never fully understand. Thank your personally chosen higher power for the existence of things that are bigger than ourselves because they keep us striving and reaching for something more. There will forever be something beyond us. A world where everything had a set value would be boring as hell to live in.

Take comfort on 3.14.11 in the fact that some concepts will never be locked down into a definitive answer because that’s just the way they were meant to be. π is more than a number. π is you. π is me. We are irrational. We are endless. We never repeat.

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