What Happens When Three Is Almost Enough: Go Irrational!

Three is almost magicLots of pages could be written about the magic of number three. Either bad or good, the “three” was with humankind in one way or another, even from the very beginning. However, in one single case, Mother Nature fooled our number three, making it a little bit too small to fit in this equation. Nobody knew the secret, until one day, when some Egyptian guys thought to measure the unmeasurable, and discovered something that was going to astonish everybody ever since.

This is my challenge to you: given a few facts I’m going to reveal here, you’ll have to guess which is that little thing which made big history, without being exactly a “three”.

  • Fact 1: Its day is celebrated on March 14 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco (because March 14 is 3/14);
  • Fact 2: The earliest known reference to it occurs in a Middle Kingdom papyrus scroll, written around 1650 BC by a scribe named Ahmes. He began the scroll with the words: “The Entrance Into the Knowledge of All Existing Things”;
  • Fact 3: It was discovered by a Greek mathematician named Archimedes. Archimedes wrote about it in a book called The Measurement of a Circle;
  • Fact 4: All its digits can never be fully known;
  • Fact 5: Physicists have noted its ubiquity in nature: in the discs of sun and moon, in the double helix of DNA, in the pupil of the eye, in waves and ripples and spectra of all kinds.
  • Fact 6: It can be used to measure anything circular;
  • Fact 7: It is so complex that the world’s most powerful computers continue to calculate it;
  • Fact 8: The Guinness Book of World Records credits Yasumasa Kanada of the University of Tokyo with the most accurate calculation of it;
  • Fact 9: Scientists use computations that include it to put satellites into orbit.

Come on, please name the monster!

Special mentions: I have to apologize to all my sources for not mentioning them here, but I didn’t want to spoil the surprize). This post is part of Daily Blog Tips Group Writing Project, THREE.

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  1. Posted July 8, 2007 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I believe the monster is pi. That was the first thing to come to mind. And your first fact 3/14 is the beginning of pi 3.14

  2. Posted July 8, 2007 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Excellent, Dave, you got it right!

  3. Karen
    Posted July 8, 2007 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Oooops, not quick enough. I was going to go with pi too. It was the satellight into orbit clue for me.

  4. Posted July 8, 2007 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Great, Karen. Thanks for your answer!

  5. Posted July 9, 2007 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    Yup, pi, the ever fascinating number. Interesting info, I had no clue about half of it :)

  6. Posted July 9, 2007 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    Neither did I, Alina, until yesterday.

  7. Posted July 9, 2007 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    But can you eat it too? ;-)

  8. Posted July 10, 2007 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Whenever my son asks Daddy, “What’s your favorite number?” my husband replies, “pi.” And my son always responds, “Pie is not a number! It’s a food!”

  9. Posted July 10, 2007 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    Yes, John, I suppose Mary answered your question. Mary, you have a lovely son.

  10. Posted July 10, 2007 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Have you ever noticed how often the number 3 turns up in folk tales and fairy tales and superstitions? I’ve often thought that there’s some strange deep resonance of 3 with human nature… wanna bet that the ubiquitous Pi has something to do with that!

  11. Posted July 11, 2007 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Yes Jen, ever since my childhood, I heard a lot of stories involving three “something”. It surely must be something in there.

  12. Posted July 13, 2007 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Late to the party. I see the answer was already guessed. :)

  13. Posted July 14, 2007 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    No problem, Angie. You are welcome here any time.

3 Trackbacks

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  2. By Blog Project Three Has Some Winners on November 24, 2007 at 5:18 pm

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  3. By Dailyblogtips contest entries » Hello Ashok! on January 16, 2008 at 9:41 am

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