Happy Pi Day!

This is the obligatory pi day post.

Despite my insistence on celebrating this most glorious of holidays, I believe that celebrating Pi Day is silly numerology. Here’s why:

  • 3.14 depends on the base 10 number system.
  • 3.14 is only an approximation.
  • Pi Day suggests that pi is more important than other mathematical constants, such as e or tau.

Of course, celebrating e day is rather difficult because February does not have 71 days. There is actually a movement to celebrate Tau Day, however. I believe that celebrating tau instead of pi is even sillier.

  • Tau Day suffers from all of the problems of Pi Day that were listed above.
  • What food would we eat on Tau Day?
  • Why don’t we celebrate 2 Pi i day instead?
  • Einstein was born on Pi Day.
  • In particle physics, the pi particle is lighter and therefore more nimble than the tau particle. In addition, the pi particle interacts by the strong force while the tau particle interacts via the weak force.
  • Roughly speaking, pions are the particles that bind protons and neutrons together in the nucleus (according to the Yukawa interaction). Without pions, the only element in the world would be hydrogen, which would be rather unfortunate. So pions are very important in everyday life. In contrast the tau is basically a fat electron that decays quickly and doesn’t really do anything, so it’s pretty useless.
  • In chemistry, pi bonds are crucial while tau bonds are much less important.
  • \prod is the symbol for product, so pi represents productivity.
  • “Pirates” starts with pi, and as we should know, the decrease in pirates is linked with an increase in average global temperature.

Numerology is silly. In other news, today is the anniversary of the creation of this blog. Guess which post so far has been the most popular? Ironically, it’s 2011: Numerology.


4 responses to “Happy Pi Day!

  1. Elliott March 16, 2011 at 12:59 am

    Technically it’s gluons and not pions that bind protons and neutrons together, but that’s okay. Happy belated pi day.

    • Anand March 16, 2011 at 7:28 am

      It is true that virtual gluons and quarks are what’s really going on at a lower level, but at low energies I think you can model it pretty well as the exchange of a pi0 – see the diagram on page 71 in Griffiths. Also, to quote Wikipedia,

      “Since nucleons have no color charge, the nuclear force does not directly involve the force carriers of quantum chromodynamics, the gluons. However, just as electrically neutral atoms (each composed of cancelling charges) attract each other via the second-order effects of electrical polarization, via the van der Waals forces (London forces), so by analogy, “color-neutral” nucleons may attract each other by a type of polarization which allows some basically gluon-mediated effects to be carried from one color-neutral nucleon to another, via the virtual mesons which transmit the forces, and which themselves are held together by virtual gluons.”

      In any case, happy belated pi day, and good luck on the particle physics final!

  2. Wellll May 26, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Henri Lebesgue was born on Tau Day?

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