15 February 2008

I Think I Need a Slice of Pi

God, I'm such a geek! I mean, seriously. I live with myself on a day-to-day basis and running around after three little ones takes the geek right out of you. You don't notice it so much. But, every now and again, it rears it's ugly little taped-up-glasses face, and The Force is so disturbed by its appearance that you have take a step back and breathe.

That happened yesterday evening. Somehow, in the midst of our Valentine's Day Folks restaurant smörgåsbord, the subject of pi came up. Don't ask me how, it just did. The other topic of conversation was the phone call Chuck (the FIL) made to son Ty-man regarding computers for home automation.

*Seriously, folks, this house of his up in the mountains is going to be all that and a bag of chips. If nuclear war is imminent, I'm e-mailing out the directions to it and we're hiding our asses up there 'til the shootin's done!*

So, when I heard about his need for a souped-up home automation computer, I sprang up and said to the Ty-man, "Hey! Let's convince your dad that he needs to buy a slightly used Cray supercomputer that way half the computing power of that sucker can be used for automating his home and the other half can compute pi!"

Allow me to explain. I'm a big fan of Carl Sagan, all of his books, and his view of the universe - his mix of science and philosophy. If I could open up a "First Church of Sagan" without having rocks pelted at me, I would. Anyhoo, I loved Contact, the book. The movie was pretty good but the book was extraordinary. Before becoming a wife and mother, I wanted to be a radio astronomer. Growing up in West Virginia, in the shadow of Green Bank NRAO and being a science geek, I couldn't help but want to be a radio astronomer, after I was an astronaut, of course. But a little thing called Ty-man flew in and swept me off my feet. But, I digress.

See, in the book, the main character and radio astronomer, Dr. Arroway, makes her cross-galaxy trip that no one believes happened. So, she retreats to the Very Large Array and begins to calculate pi. Well, she doesn't. She's not sitting there with a pen and paper, writing down numbers. She has a supercomputer doing it. And she has it looking for patterns in the numbers and sets it to alert her when it has found something. What it finds is astonishing. According to this fictional book, when pi is solved in Base 11 (don't ask), a series of ones and zeros are found literally a kilometer out from the decimal point and when these ones and zeros are aligned in a raster square (don't ask), the ones form a circle - a perfect circle from which you can again calculate pi. It's as if the creator of the universe, God if you will, has left us a message in the most fundamental and perfect numbers known to man. DAMN that Carl Sagan knew how to write!

This is something a geek could get behind! You want to covert all godless and on-the-fence geeks? Find something like this mathematically in nature and we'll flock to a belief in a creator. I would rather own a Cray, calculating pi to the nth degree, and possibly find a pattern in the numbers, than read a Bible any day. Now that I've put that out there, I'll just watch the hate mail roll in. But, that's just how I feel. That's how pi makes me feel. It's just such a wonderful little, mysterious number that brings out the geek in me.

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445
9230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230664709
38446095505822317253594081284811174502841027019385211055596446
2294895493038196442881097566593344612847564823378678316527120
1909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587
0066063155881748815209209628292540917153643678925903600.....

10 comments:

Just A Girl said...

mmhmmm, and how does this make you feel?

;)

Teri said...

Wow. And you called ME a geek yesterday. Hi pot, I'm kettle.

Mr. Fabulous said...

eye s...gla..zi.ng over...will to li v e lost...

Shar said...

You and my husband... Just ignore me while I pretend I'm paying attention to what you're talking about...

:) You're funny.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Just a Girl - Makes me feel happy!

Teri - Nice to meet you, kettle!

Fab - Sorry, hon!

Shar - Father of Crazy Man Jones and I think alike? Great minds, baby, great minds...

Gypsy said...

All I have to do is see numbers and my mind goes kkpppppptttthhhhbbt.

But at least pi makes more sense than turning water into wine.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Dude, I just watched Never Been Kissed when it was on TV over the weekend, and they have some random pi jokes in there. Does that make me geeky because not only did I notice, but I laughed when I saw it? Or just a wannabe geek in the presence of your magnificence, Queen of Geekiness?

cmgds mom said...

lyyjhijOh my god, and she is my daughter.

Avitable said...

For the ultra geeky:

Check this out.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Gypsy - My point exactly.

NATUI - You are a fellow geek, sweetie!

My Mom - Yep! Scared?!?! :-)

Avitable - I bow before your greatness!