Pi Essay

The area of a circle is one of the first formulas that you learn as a young math student. It is simply taught as, . There is no explanation as to why the area of a circle is this arbitrary formula. As it turns out the area of a circle is not an easy task to figure out by your self. Early mathematicians knew that area was, in general to four sided polygons, length times width. But a circle was different, it could not be simply divided into length and width for it had no sides. As it turns out, finding the measurement to be squared was not difficult as it was the radius of the circle. There was another aspect of the circle though that has led one of the greatest mathematical voyages ever launched, the search of Pi.

One of the first ever documented estimates for the area of a circle was found in Egypt on a paper known as the Rhind Papyrus around the time of 1650 BCE. The paper itself was a copy of an older “book” written between 2000 and 1800 BCE and some of the information contained in that writing might have been handed down by Imhotep, the man who supervised the building of the pyramids.The paper, copied by the scribe named Ahmes, has 84 problems on it and their solutions. On the paper, in problem number 50 he wrote; “Cut off 1/9 of a diameter and construct a square upon the remainder; this has the same area as a circle.” Given that we already know that the area of a circle is we find that the early Egyptian estimate for the area of a circle was which simplified to or 3.16049… Though, the papyrus does not go into detail as to how Ahmes derived this estimate. This estimate for Pi given by the ancient Egyptians is less than 1% off of the true value of Pi. Given, there was no standard of measurement in that day and they also had no tools to aid them in such calculations such as compasses or measuring tapes, this is an amazingly accurate value for Pi and the area of a circle.Another early attempt at the area of a circle is found in the Bible. In the old testament within the book of Kings Vii.23 and also in Chronicles iv.2 a statement is made that says; “And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was round all about and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” From this verse, we come to the conclusion that Pi is 30/10 or simply 3. The book of Kings was edited around the time of 550 BCE. Mu…

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…ct, the rest of the mathematical world doesn’t dare question their founding mathematicians, and that they alone, the cyclometer, have discovered the true value of Pi. One circle squarer even went so far as to submit a law in his home state of Indiana that his value of Pi be used as the legal value of Pi. It was passed, but to this day awaits further legislation in regard to its factuality.In the end, there is still an ongoing search for the true area of a Circle in continued research of the number Pi. Scientists today have reached a record number of decimals of Pi to 206,158,430,000 using a Hitachi Supercomputer. The calculation took 37 hours, 21 minutes and 4 seconds. Using the latest calculation for Pi, if you were to assemble a circle a million miles in diameter, the circle would be less than an inch off. But why the pursuit of a solution that will never end? For many, being that there are no perfect circles even in nature, the perfect circle is an unattainable goal to seek. Through the adventure of discovering new aspects about the circle, other insights may be revealed. The mystery of the circle is an endless pursuit, but for mathematicians, it is the pursuit of perfection.


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