Thursday, December 21, 2006

Everybody Gets a Slice of the Pi

Physicists have noted the ubiquity of pi in nature. Pi is obvious in the disks of the moon and the sun. The double helix of DNA revolves around pi. Pi hides in the rainbow, and sits in the pupil of the eye, and when a raindrop falls into water pi emerges in the spreading rings. Pi can be found in waves and ripples and spectra of all kinds, and therefore pi occurs in colors and music. Pi has lately turned up in superstrings, the hypothetical loops of energy vibrating inside subatomic particles. Pi occurs naturally in tables of death, in what is known as a Gaussian distribution of deaths in a population: that is, when a person dies, the event "feels" the Ludolphian number [i.e., pi].
--"The Mountains of Pi," by Richard Preston, The New Yorker, March 2, 1992, p. 40.

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