Albert Einstein wanted more ‘Pi’


Mar. 14 is Pi Day, an informal holiday celebrating the mathematical ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It also happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday — and you thought we wouldn’t find a relevant archive article.


Pi went through several approximations (including 22/7, which was later disproved). In 1882, it was proven to be a transcendental number, approximated by a never-ending string of decimals that begins 3.141592693589…

Einstein weighed in on the approximation of pi, based on Hendrik Lorentz’s theory of length contraction, which he summarized in a 1932 lecture in Berlin:

Using the example of a merry-go-round to illustrate a point in Lorentz’s theory, Professor Einstein said speed determined the length of bodies.

"Length laid along the radius of the merry-go-round does not change with speed but, as speed increases the length laid around the circumference becomes shorter," he said.

From this he drew the conclusion that the accepted conception of "Pi" should not read 3.1415926, but "rather something higher," depending upon the speed of the bodies.

On Pi Day, it’s customary to eat pie and do nerdy things  — in moderation, of course. 

Check out some photos documenting Einstein’s relationship with JTA.

And for the non-scientists among you, an anecdote about Natan Sharansky getting pied.

Recommended from JTA