Since it’s Pi Day in March, and ridiculously there are still people who haven’t spurned π completely in favour of τ, maths/media pixie Marcus Du Sautoy is running a free online event, called Pi Day Live (hashtag: #pidaylive). Since everything is more exciting when it’s happening LIVE, actually and IN REALITY, they’ll be conducting a live experiment, using circle measuring, marble arranging, Buffon-y needle dropping and in some extreme cases, river length approximation to calculate, LIVE, in REAL LIFE, approximations to the value of Pi.
Here’s a message from the organisers:
As you know, pi is a number that has fascinated mathematicians throughout the ages and today’s mathematicians have pushed the limits of computing technology to calculate the number to over one trillion digits. But Marcus asks the question: can we still calculate pi using ancient techniques?
Pi Day Live welcomes as many people as possible to work together to calculate pi using techniques from the pre-computer age. We want to discover if we can collectively calculate pi to one, two, three or more, decimal places using tools no more sophisticated than marbles, sticks and string.
Anyone can take part, via our online lecture theatre or by watching online on the ‘big screen’. All you need is a computer that can run YouTube to be able to get involved.
The event is being run by Oxford Connect, based at the University of Oxford, although this appears to be their first event as an organisation. If you’d like to get involved, check the Official Pi Day Live website, and if you’d like to get sarcastic, spend the whole duration of the 50-minute event tweeting Marcus better approximations of π than he’ll ever manage to get by dropping sticks.
Marcus’ introductory video is here: