This Pi Day, remember the reason for the season

Pi Day pie
The Pie shop in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood goes all-out for Pi Day. (Pie via Facebook)

Maybe it’s time to put the pi back in Pi Day.

I remember a time when 3/14 really stood for something: namely, the calendar date that came closest to the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

Yes, I’m talking about pi, or π for the purists out there. 3.14159… Arguably the best-known irrational number in mathematics.

That was the reason why physicist Larry Shaw came up with the traditional Pi Day ceremonies precisely 30 years ago, in 1988. He and his disciples celebrated the first Pi Day at San Francisco’s Exploratorium by consuming slices of pizza and fruit pie, and marching in a circle at 1:59 p.m. (Get it? 3/14 1:59?)

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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