Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Numbers Game

To show you what geeks we were, one particular game of skill was being able to recite pi to the nth digit.  I guess this was our equivalent of being able to down a shot of tequila without barfing, although in this case, regurgitation was required.  I always had trouble getting past the 7th digit; for the following cartoons, I actually had to look in the Nerd's Bible, formally known as the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.
I should note that it is not necessary to own a copy of the CRC Handbook to know pi(π) out to the 100th digit.  You can look up a whole etymology of pi on Wikipedia, although in keeping with the Wikipedia tradition of factual reliability, every digit beyond the 39th place is inaccurate.

Pi is not the only number which has a train of significant digits reaching into the infinite.  Among the many different constants in mathematics, there is e.
For those of you who are still in grade school (and those of us for whom senility has started robbing us of our mental knowledge of the trivial), pi is the circumference of a circle divided by the diameter, while e is the point at which the derivative of the function e to the x equals 1, when x is 0.

There is another, more obscure constant...
I should mention that the CRC Handbook is a venerable compendium that is now in its 91st Edition (my copy, which still resides on a bookshelf in my office, was the 54th Edition).  It is known for its functionality and versatility.  And it is entirely indispensable.

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