|via flickr user Alex Cockroach under Creative Commons license|
I asked my son if he knew what pi was. He said yes, it was a number. I agreed that was partially right, but that it was even more magical than that. I drew a circle, and he correctly identified both the circumference and the diameter (things I don't know if I knew when I was in third grade); I explained the pi was the ratio of the circle's circumference to its diameter ... that no matter how big or how small the circle was, you'd always get the same number, and that it goes on forever without an identifiable repeating pattern in the decimal: irrational and transcendental. Pi helps us to describe every process, every cycle that repeats. Pi explains waves. Pi is the universe sticking its tongue out at us, refusing to be calculated in some way that we can pin down, but also bringing us ever closer to its understanding.
"Isn't that cool?" I said, waving my marker.
"Whoa, cool," agreed I. and N.
I wouldn't consider myself a math geek. But pi reminds me that math is pretty amazing, that part of its beauty lies in its enigmatic nature. I hope that I can instill some of that wonder in my kids, even if I've used it as an excuse to eat pi, or pie, for breakfast.
What's your favorite pie? Are you a math geek?