Happy Pi Day!
Today is 3/14. Not quite as good approximation of the mathematical constant Pi as the date and time of 3/14/1592 at 6:53 am…
Ancient civilizations recognized the import if Pi in mathematics – the Babylonians, Egyptians and Greeks. The Greek mathematician Archimedes created an algorithm to approximate Pi. The Chinese approximated Pi to 7 digits in the 5th century to 3.1415927. By 1973 Pi was approximated to 1,000,000 digits using mainframe supercomputers, and to many more digits by now.
The numerical value of Pi we are familiar with is based on the base-10 number system we use – that is using the digits 0 to 9 to express any number. Some speculate the use of base-10 dates to humans having ten fingers (ok, the thumb is not a finger according to some, but play along).
There are other systems, such as the octal, or base-8 number system, which uses the digits 0 to 7. This octal system has been broadly used in computer programming; however, the octal system was used much earlier by some Native American tribes as they counted the 8 knuckles or the spaces between their fingers. In base-8 Pi is 3.1103…
In honor of the symbol of Pi being a Greek letter, here is Teesdale’s 1831 map of Greece.
Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.
Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Antique Maps & Fun Facts here on Loveland Beacon.