3.14 - Pi In Popular Culture
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Oct 9, 2012

3.14 - Pi In Popular Culture

Happy Pi day - Photo by Mykl Roventine
Even most mathematicians would be happy to admit that their area of expertise is far from cool. But there's something about Pi that's different. It's the most famous mathematical constant in the world, probably because it helps us draw pretty circles. Circles are cool, therefore Pi is cool.
And the best thing about Pi is that you'll find references to it everywhere. Some are blatantly obvious, others are more subtle and can only be appreciated by a true geek.

Here are 3.14 of the best mentions of Pi in popular culture.

1) π (1998)


Let's start with the most overt reference to Pi. Darren Aronofsky caused a stir in 1998 when he decided to title his debut thriller π (from now on we'll call it Pi because it will be a whole lot easier).
The plot revolves around a paranoid mathematical genius who builds himself a supercomputer so powerful that it can be used to distinguish patterns in the stock market. I'll say no more than that, as you may want to see the film. It's definitely worth putting down your protractor for.

2) π by Kate Bush


Kate Bush loved Pi so much that she sung a whole song about it on her 2005 album Aerial. It's another reference that's far from subtle, but I suppose that's good for all us part time mathematicians.
It's about a man who loves numbers, and Pi is his favourite. Over the course of the song she recites Pi to 115 decimal places which is pretty impressive stuff. Well it would be if she got it right! Surely everyone knows that the 54th decimal is 0, not 3 as the song suggests?! Sort it out Kate.

3) The Net (1995)


Finally a reference that's a little more subtle. It's hardly Sandra Bullock's finest work, but as she references Pi I think we should let her off.
Bullock's character is a software engineer and all round computer geek. She lives an extremely boring life that gets a whole lot more exciting when she uncovers a particularly implausible web based conspiracy.
If you do decide to watch the film look of for how Bullock uncovers the initial information of the conspiracy. You might just recognise the symbol...

0.14) Twilight (2008)


The Twilight Saga is so terrible, and the reference to Pi is so fleeting that it only counts as 0.14 of a mention.
It really is a case of blink and you'll miss it. Bella asks Edward for some answers, and for some reason he responds by saying "1.77245". Bella then responds by saying she didn't mean she wanted to know the square root of Pi, and Edward is impressed that she knew that's what it was.
When you think about it the whole incident is completely unnecessary, and has no place in a vampire love story. But then again the whole movie is unnecessary, so I guess it kind of fits.

Guest Author: When he's not drawing perfect circles with his compass Paul Davidson works for Find Me A Gift, where the teacher gifts are so fantastic they'll be more loved than Pi itself.