HI! PI!

 

3.14

Obviously, these three digits represent the current month and day… or… as any math geek would readily inform us…

Today is…TA-DA… PI Day!

For countless generations, mathematicians have represented PI by the (more or less) equivalent fraction 22/7 OR… in other words… 22 divided by 7… which equals the close-but-no-cigar quotient…

3.1428571

Of course, when we compare that to the following, drastically abbreviated, representation of PI, well… I think we can readily agree that that above quotient is not close enough…

3.1415926

What will get us much closer is the fraction we’ll arrive at when we double the first three odd numbered digits 113355. Next we need to group these six digits thusly… 355 and 113… and reconfigure them as the fraction 355/113. OR… in other words this becomes… 355 divided by 113… which nets us the quotient… can somebody give us a drum roll… TA-DA…

3.1415929

Backstory: I cannot take credit for thinking this up… I first read about that enhanced PI fraction in an Instruction Manuel for the Hewlett-Packard device… a.k.a the HP-35… a.k.a. (Wikipedia quote) “the world’s first scientific pocket calculator”.

My Chemist / Physicist / Gadgeteer Dad, who, at the time, taught Chemistry / Advanced Placement Chemistry within our hometown’s public school system had needed this really cool device to facilitate the multiple dozens of his daily, highly complex computations. And as his studying to be an Electrical Engineer Son, he let me borrow it to facilitate my daily complex computations, too.

The only downside to our story, here, doth become obvious when we crunch the numbers… as in the dollars and cents numbers. My dad had “arrived” at this invention’s ground floor stage. Had he been able to wait it out, Hewlett-Packard’s suggested retail price would’ve dropped dramatically.

You see… my dad had spent $395… or in today’s dollars… can somebody give us another drum roll… that would equal $2,414!

YIKES!

One more YIKES!

Check out the first 100 digits of PI…

3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510
5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blogger: My Late Father, George

 

On this day, 29 years ago, my father died at dawn. For 37 years, he had been the consummate educator… delivering his Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Mathematics lectures to two generations of teenage students residing in Minnesota and Michigan.

As a sophomore and junior I had answered, “Here” during each of Dad’s Monday – Friday morning role calls… as a senior I had been his lab assistant. Of course, I had also benefited from his home schooling, which encompassed life’s lessons.

As most of us know, historically, public school teachers have been underpaid and under-appreciated. So, to supplement his meager income, Dad expanded his lecture circuit… his byline appearing beneath our weekly, local newspaper’s front page column: “The Science Corner”.

Had Dad been born a bit later and lived longer than his 75 years, I’m positive he’d now be an enthusiastic blogger… perhaps even setting up his “lectern” right here @WordPress. I know he’d be thrilled by the prospects of his wisdom and wit spreading outward… at the speed of light… to all four corners of the Earth.

Keeping all the above in mind and with my saved and cherished, time-yellowed, brittle, actual hard copy newspaper propped up before me, I’ve decided to transcribe one of Dad’s lectures. And since 23 of my 46 chromosomes are my father’s… in a sense… 5 of my 10 fingers are his as I… no strike that… as we both… type it out.

I cannot think of a more fitting way to honor my father this day… than to afford him a bit of Internet immortality… resurrect his thoughts… restore his “voice”…  allow him to mind-meld with countless other minds, anew.

 

The Science Corner

DATELINE Thursday, July 2, 1953

 

The age old question – which was first, the chicken or the egg – has been used as a debate-ender, a counter dilemma, and even as a joke. If one discounts the dissertations of the debaters and philosophers and the quips of the comedians and truly strives for a scientific answer, then both the meaning and answer become crystal clear.

All living things, both plants and animals, are made up of tiny bits of protoplasm (living matter which looks very much like raw eggwhite). These bits of protoplasm are called cells. In animals, including the chicken, there are skin cells, muscle cells, bone cells, sperm cells and egg cells – to name just a few. All of the types of cells mentioned above except sperm and egg cells are ordinary body cells and are called somatic cells. The sperm and egg cells (collectively called germ cells) differ from the somatic cells in that the former are used to perpetuate life.

When a sperm cell unites with an egg cell, fertilization takes place. All cells, including new somatic cells and new sperm or egg cells, originate from the fertilized egg cell through processes of division and differentiation. In keeping with these principles, both the new chicken (somatic cells) and all of the eggs (germ cells) that the new chicken will ever lay come from the same egg. To put it still another way, the fertilized egg produces both the body cells which will make up the new chicken and all of the new eggs which the new chicken will lay during its lifetime.

The answer, then, to the original question is: the egg must have been first, because it came necessarily from the previous egg and not from the new chicken.

This concept, first enunciated by the German biologist – August Weismann, is known as the continuity of germplasm theory. According to this concept, the germ cells are immortal if reproduction takes place.

Next Week: Why Does Smoke Rise in a Chimney?