I know, I know – the π day was yesterday. But as you know, I am way to lazy to post here on the weekends. Look at it this way: thanks to me you can celebrate the π holiday one day longer than usual.
Here is the obligatory π day question: how many digits of π do you have memorized? And if your answer is more than 5, I have a follow up question: why? No seriously, why? There are so many other things you could memorize instead. Things you could actually use in your daily life such as the stats of D&D monsters, video game trivia, internet memes or, I don’t know, Quenya vocab words. Practical things. There is really no reason to memorize a hundred digits of π because there is never situation where you would need more than 4 or 5 and were without means to look up the remaining ones. In fact, if you use that much precision it would be recommended to look it up, rather than rely on your memory.
The proper answer to the question “What is the 25th digit of π” is “I don’t know, but I can look it up”. That is a scientific approach. Remembering a million digits of π is not even geeky. It’s just… Silly. I think the amount of respect you get for remembering digits π tops out around 5 or 6 and then starts falling sharply. It’s like: “you know way to many digits of π sir, I don’t know if we can be friends”. I don’t know if I can actually trust anyone who can sit there and memorize numbers like this. I mean, I hardly even have time to think about memorizing stuff – my brain works overtime as it is. If you can memorize so many pi digits you either don’t have that much going on upstairs (so you can spend time memorizing instead of thinking about things) or you just have a very good memory. Both possibilities disturb me.
On the other hand, calculating π is cool because it actually does something productive. It pushes the limits of what we can do with technology. The discipline is all about creating efficient algorithms. That’s something I can get behind. Everyone can memorize bunch of numbers given enough time and effort – rote memorization is a dumb busy work though. Not everyone can write an algorithm that will calculate 27 trillion digits of π within 130 days using a desktop PC. That’s the current record btw – 27 trillion.