My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Pi tune for Pi Day

Today being 3.14, it's known in math circles (← geometry pun) as "Pi Day." Now, I don't run in math circles (I just run in circles while trying to do math, which is a horse of an entirely different color), but while continuing my spring cleaning this morning I caught a story on NPR's Morning Edition about this musician, John Michael Blake, who decided to celebrate Pi Day by setting ∏ to music.

I'd originally posted a video of Blake explaining and performing his "Pi Song" but almost immediately after the NPR story ran, someone named Lars Erickson filed a copyright claim so YouTube took it down. I'd managed to replace it with another that was still there, but it's gone now too. The discussion in the comments section on the NPR story page made it sound like Erickson's copyright claim is tenuous, and Blake has filed a counter claim with YouTube and hopes to get his videos restored. So while we wait for all that brouhaha to be resolved, here's another quite different but still fun song based on and all about Pi, explained and performed (a cappella) by Lucy Kaplansky and written by her late mathematician father, Irving Kaplansky...

John Michael Blake won the lawsuit and his Pi Song video is back!

And once you've listened to one or both of the Pi Songs, enjoy a piece of pi(e)! And have a happy Pi Day ~ the sort of day where your blessings multiply, nothing is divisive and everything totally adds up. (End of math puns.). :-)


  1. OMG....Uncle Tom would love this post!! You did not mention any variables, fibonacci, Pythagorus, or anything squared,cubed, or quantized. There was room for far more puns, but we are tip-toeing dangerously close to the science areas where I must bail out.
    Happy pi day to you too.
    BTW...I had a piece of pie yesterday. Does that count?

  2. I never heard March 14th called 'Pi Day' before! Learn something new everyday!

  3. Ah! I see! It doesn't work for us, as we put the day before the month, this side of the Atlantic. It makes more sense to us to go day, month, year... So today is 14.3, not a particularly memorable feature in the maths world, as far as I'm aware. :o)

    Any excuse for pie is a good one, however, and I wish I'd known sooner!

  4. And a happy Pi day to you as well. Penny, would you have April 31st as Pi day (314). You are right that it doesn't work as well if you punctuate it, but without punctuation? Just a thought. Although I suppose without punctuation it would have to be 3104 so forget that idea! For all my math students, also, happy Pi Day!

  5. Forgot to add--today is also Einstein's birthday (3/14/1879)!

  6. Today is my youngest son's birthday. He was born on 3.14.91 :) I'm taking him to Fridays for dinner (his request). The Baker's Square in Willowbrook was giving away free pieces of pie today in honor of Pi Day. :) (Pssstttt...someone tell daphne that April only has 30 days, not 31. :)

  7. LOL! Well, today my April has 31 at the very least. I am sorry!

  8. Yeah Pi day! I must say, any day that particularly references maths is just one I usually get geared up for. But it's kinda cute. I like the symbol.

    I couldn't see the video; it says it was taken down due to a copyright claim from Lars Erikson.

    Wow, Daphne...way to come up with a workaround!

  9. Sue ~ LOL, I didn't even think of Uncle Tom!

    (For the rest of you who might be "eavesdropping" on my reply to Sue, "Uncle Tom" was our affectionate name for our high school algebra teacher, who wore a different colored pair of corduroys every day which we called his "variables" - an algebraic term we wittily co-opted - and we'd try to guess which "variable" he would be wearing each day. Some of this may explain why I can't remember shee-ite about algebra!) Anyway, I should have thought of him - math, pie and Uncle Tom go together! (Uncle Tom's wife once baked each of us our favorite pie, which were coconut cream and banana cream, and sent them to school with Tom to give to us. Since they required refrigeration, Sue and I decided our best approach would be to sit out in the hallway during algebra class and eat them. In their entirety. Really, it's a wonder I can even balance my checkbook!) :-) I'm sure I missed several other math puns, but I was in a hurry. My boss is mean and only lets me take short breaks during spring cleaning. (I hate her). ;-)

    Shen ~ It was news to me too!

    Penny ~ That hadn't occurred to me! You guys with your metric system, driving on the wrong side of the road, eccentric vocabulary and odd way of writing dates... honestly! ;-) Doesn't mean you can't celebrate Pi Day, though, it just means you have to eat your pie at 3:14 (a.m. or p.m., your choice). :-)

  10. Daphne ~ LOL, that would have been a great idea but for that one minor detail! :-) Some months do seem a day longer than the calendar claims them to be...

    Did you get a chance to wish your math students a Happy Pi Day today? (Or bake them each their favorite pie?) :-)

    And I didn't know it was Einstein's birthday today! (Like Shen said, learn something new every day!)

    Lori ~ Happy birthday to your son! I wonder if he'll have birthday pie for dessert?

    Rose ~ Thanks for telling me about the video. >:-( I thought about deleting the video, but decided just to add a note about it. That's a bummer!

  11. LOL- what a fun, creative post, Laurie! Happy Pi day to you, too! I hope that the video is eventually restored, because that would be interesting to hear. The pie at the end is fantastic!

  12. Molly ~ Thank you, Molly! And your wish has been granted (at least for now), as I managed to find another video of it that's still playable. So enjoy it while it lasts! :-)

    And I agree, that Pi Pie is quite something!

  13. I ran over here when I saw your email! Daaaaaamn, that's a catchy tune! Mike and I are both very impressed with it. I expected something much simpler, but that was really something!

  14. I wish I would have remembered sooner so I could have used the excuse to have a piece of pie!

  15. Penny beat me to it! I suppose we could have Pi day on July 22 (22/7 to us) as that's the way of expressing it as a fraction... and by the way we only use metric when it suits us: body weight is imperial, and we use miles not km, we're pretty flexible :O) And we do drive on the right side of the road (well the left, but the left is the right side if you know what I mean)! And guess what, David's name for me is Pi! As it always reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor's horse in the film National Velvet I'm never sure how to take it! :O)

  16. Molly ~ I'm glad you enjoyed it! I was expecting something very simple too, he did a nice job of layering it and using all those instruments (he sure can play a lot of them!)

    Jamie ~ Well, it provided a good excuse, but I know of no rules that say you can ONLY eat pie on Pi Day! ;-)

    Barbara ~ David calls you Pi? How funny! And was he aware that we were celebrating "your" day in all nations that use the date configuration "3.14?" ;-)

    I can just imagine how I'd have done on mathematical word problems in a British school: If a man weighing 12 stone traveled 31 kilometers and burned 2 litres of petrol costing 4£, how many guineas would he have left by tea time?

    I actually took to driving on the left almost right away when we visited, except when making a left hand turn onto a multi-lane road. That's when things got dangerous, as I always wanted to turn into the far right lane! Eeeek!

  17. This math geek missed Pi day. Darn! Your post did bring back some memories from my high school math team days when the guys would try to outdo each other in memorizing Pi to the most number of decimal places. I have a crappy memory for memorizing random streams of numbers (I have trouble remembering my own phone number) so I was never part of that.

    And I LOVE Pie! It's my favorite dessert so I checked out the web site and may try a couple when lent is over.

    I didn't get to hear the video but actually the story on NPR was a better choice for me since I definitely wouldn't have "gotten" it anyway by listening. I thought what he did was a little like me designing a quilt around Fibinacci's sequence - very cool to take math and turn it into an art!

    Thanks for Pi day - especially since you don't like math. I consider it an honor to myself and others like me who love math!!!

  18. Jo ~ Well you'll have to remember Pi Day next year! Should be easy for you, coming just four days before Jim's birthday - that'll make for quite a party week at your house! ;-)

    I'm sorry this video went missing before you had a chance to listen to the tune, because it's fun (but am glad you enjoyed the NPR story). The song's composer, Michael John Blake, has a video on YouTube now explaining what happened to his videos and saying he has filed a counter complaint with YouTube and hopes to have his song up again soon. Meanwhile, I've put a very different but also very fun Pi Song video on this post for you. It has an intro and lyrics any math-geek will truly enjoy! ;-)

    Wonder which pies you'll try? There are sure some yummy-looking ones on that site! I didn't know pie is your favorite dessert! Yup, you definitely have to remember to celebrate Pi Day from now on!


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