For the Love of Pi: The Gateway Drugs to Science and Math

Even though today is Pi day, Google shockingly did not change its logo into some kind of clever graphic featuring this famous neverending number. In any case, here in the Tor.com rocket, we feel like Pi isn’t the only science and math icon that deserves its own holiday.

Last year, we asked all of you out on Facebook and Twitter about your early experiences with the wonders of science and math and which numbers, concepts, equations and notions first got you hooked. Here’s a sampling of what you said.

 

Möbius strip (or Möbius Band)

You can create this mind-boggling mathematical surface using a simple piece of paper twisted in either one direction or another. Famously non-orientable, the Möbius strip represents a multitude of oddities. For example: if you draw line down the center of a Möbius strip the line will meet its starting point on the other side. If such a line is continued however, it will be double the length of the Möbius strip. As were sure Arthur C. Clarke would agree, math sure seems like magic sometimes.

 

Fibonacci Number and Fibonacci sequence

Each subsequent number in a Fibonacci sequence is the sum of the previous two. Apparently this mathematical concept can be used to not only predict financial trends, but also reproductive cycles of animals like rabbits. We’re not going to lie here, we’re pretty sure our Tor.com readers understand this one better than us. We just fly the rocket ship here. You guys are the fuel.

 

The Tesseract

Here’s one we understand. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, right? Wrong. When you’ve got a tesseract, which is essentially what a cube is to a square, you can travel between points in the 4th dimension. Naturally, the particular application of this is time travel, assuming you’re so much of a layperson that you don’t understand that space-time is basically the same thing. That’s right, isn’t it? Here’s a video from Carl Sagan which we think helps.

 

Mass-Energy Equivalence (E=mc²)

Okay. So E is energy and M is mass. C is the speed of light in a vacuum. Anyway, some guy you’ve probably heard of figured this one out and used it to describe the relativistic relationship between pretty much everything. Here’s another great video on the subject (mainly because of the accent. It’s glorious):

Any other takers in our game of odds and evens? What else would you like to celebrate alongside our good friend Pi?

This post originally appeared on the site on Pi day, 2011.


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot and voice of the Tor.com staff, and enjoys Pi in the sky whenever possible.

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