What Happens When Three Is Almost Enough: Go Irrational!

Hobbies 16 Comments

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.



  1. Dave July 8, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    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. Simonne July 8, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Excellent, Dave, you got it right!

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

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

  4. Simonne July 8, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Great, Karen. Thanks for your answer!

  5. Alina Popescu July 9, 2007 at 4:21 am

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

  6. Simonne July 9, 2007 at 6:18 am

    Neither did I, Alina, until yesterday.

  7. John July 9, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    But can you eat it too? ;-)

  8. Mary (MPJ) July 10, 2007 at 12:36 am

    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. Simonne July 10, 2007 at 5:08 am

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

  10. Jen / domestika July 10, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    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. Simonne July 11, 2007 at 1:52 am

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

  12. Angie July 13, 2007 at 6:51 pm

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

  13. Simonne July 14, 2007 at 3:50 am

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

  14. My top three : 60 IN 3 September 3, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    […] What Happens When Three is Almost Enough: Go Irrational! by Simmone […]

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