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3.142: a π round-up

Pi pie by Robert Couse-Baker. Photo used under the CC-BY 2.0 license.

π pie by Robert Couse-Baker. Photo used under the CC-BY 2.0 licence.

‘Tis the season to celebrate the circle constant! Yes, that’s right: in some calendar systems using some date notation, the day and month coincide with the first three digits of π, and mathematicians all over the world are celebrating with thematic baked goods and the wearing of irrational t-shirts.

And the internet’s maths cohort isn’t far behind. Here’s a round-up (geddit – round?!) of some of our favourites. In case you were wondering, we at The Aperiodical hadn’t forgotten about π day – we’re just saving ourselves for next year, when we’ll celebrate the magnificent “3.14.15”, which will for once be more accurate to the value of π than π approximation day on 22/7. (Admittedly, for the last few years, 3.14.14 and so on have strictly been closer to π than 22/7. But this will be the first time you can include the year and feel like you’re doing it right.)

How to Teach Maths by Alex Bellos on Radio 4

Media math-man Alex Bellos has made another programme for BBC Radio 4, this time about How to Teach Maths.

Alex Bellos takes you on a mathematical learning journey from the first stages of number recognition through to an understanding of how children solve sums and calculate answers. On the way he will look at the neuroscience of maths and how our mathematical brain develops. He investigates the scientific evidence behind teaching maths and he’ll compare how modern methods of teaching children differ from those taught to their parents, helping kids today go beyond basic numeracy to develop a passion for numbers.

By the way, Radio 4 have also been repeating Marcus du Sautoy’s enjoyable A Brief History of Mathematics at a quarter to two each afternoon. That’s also available to listen to on the Radio 4 website.

Listen: How to Teach Maths on BBC Radio 4.


Nirvana by Numbers

Alex Bellos has made another documentary for BBC Radio 4, this time about the number zero. It’s a pleasant bit of numerical tourism, as Alex travels to India to find the source of the number zero in a small shrine, with a diversion to talk about Vedic maths along the way.

You can listen to Nirvana by Numbers on the BBC iPlayer. It looks like it’s available indefinitely. If Alex has whetted your appetite for historical zeroes, the book Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife is a cracking read.

Listen: Nirvana by Numbers on BBC Radio 4.