The Breakfast Club (3.14.15 Super Pi Day)

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Pi mathematical constant photo 200px-Pi-unrolled-720_zpsc86fcb4a.gif Today is Pi (π) Day, how could we live without it. So let’s celebrate π on it’s day 3.14. This year it’s even more special because today’s date is 3.14.15 matching the first five digits of the mathematical constant. The next Super Pie Day won’t happen for another 100 years.

As you remember from grammar school math, π is the mathematical constant consisting of the main numbers 3, 1 and 4. According to the Wikipedia of π, “it is the the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and is approximately equal to 3.14159.”

It has been represented by the Greek letter “π” since the mid-18th century, though it is also sometimes written as pi. π is an irrational number, which means that it cannot be expressed exactly as a ratio of two integers (such as 22/7 or other fractions that are commonly used to approximate π); consequently, its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The digits appear to be randomly distributed, although no proof of this has yet been discovered. π is a transcendental number – a number that is not the root of any nonzero polynomial having rational coefficients. The transcendence of π implies that it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge of squaring the circle with a compass and straight-edge.

OK, enough of that. Let’s get on to the party part.

 photo Pi_Pie_zpse0c8fb1d.jpg It’s earliest known celebration was in California where in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium physicist Larry Shaw along with the staff and the public marched around one of its circular spaces eating fruit pies. In 2009. The US House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution declaring 3.14 π (Pi) Day. And in 2010, a French computer scientist claimed to have calculated pi to almost 2.7 trillion digits.

Coincidentally, it is also the birthday of theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. So at Princeton University in New Jersey there are numerous celebrations around both events that also include an Albert Einstein look alike contest.

Besides the partying at Princeton, here’s what is going on elsewhere to celebrate this mathematical necessity that drives mathematicians nuts.

Celebrating Pi Day, a sweet time for scientists and pie lovers

By Steve Rubenstein. SFGate

It took the ancient Greeks and the infinite power of the circle to make it happen, but the California Academy of Sciences is opening four minutes early on Saturday.

It’s going to open at 9:26 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m. And the reason for that is because pi, the ancient ratio that specifies how many times longer the circumference of a circle is than its diameter, is 3.1415926 … , with a particular emphasis on the 926. [..]

At the California Academy of Sciences, after throwing open the doors four minutes early, astronomers will celebrate by joining visitors in the dropping of Popsicle sticks. It’s a mathematical game in which the sticks are used to model the mathematical formula for pi. The best way to find out how that works, academy insiders say, is to show up and drop a few sticks yourself.

While astronomers are dropping Popsicle sticks, other astronomers at the Golden Gate Park academy will hold a “Pi in the Sky” lecture in which they will explain how they use pi to calculate the volume of planets outside the solar system. Pi works not only on Earth, but billions of light-years from Earth, too.

About 3.14 miles to the east, the Exploratorium is trying to one up the academy, pi-wise. Admission will be free, all Pi Day long.

‘Super Pi Day’ – 3.14.15 – will feature weddings, food specials as math nerds celebrate once-a-century date

By Sasha Goldstein, New York Daily News

Dana Emanuel and Byron Clarke both love pie – she the food, he the numerical constant (spelled pi). And Saturday’s date, 3.14.15, dubbed “Super Pi Day,” happens to be the first five digits of the infinite number, which represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and remains the same no matter the size of the circle.

The date won’t come around again for 100 years, so the couple decided it was a “no brainer,” set the date and printed off circular wedding invitations to dash off to dozens of family and friends. The nuptials will bring them full circle after they got engaged on June 28 last year – 6.28, or two pi. [..]

– Runners on New York City’s Roosevelt Island will take off on a 3.14-mile course at exactly 9:26:53 a.m. Saturday on what is billed as a “Girls Prep Ultimate Pi Day Pi K.”

– A variety of events will honor the Pi Day of the Century at Manhattan’s Museum of Mathematics on East 26th St.

– The math whizzes over at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will let prospective students know if they’ve been admitted beginning at 9:26 a.m. on Saturday. The prestigious school announced the date with a two-minute video showing drones delivering the decisions.

– Greenwich Village pizzeria Ribalta will offer diners $3.14 off their bill if they wish their server a Happy Pi Day.

– The American Pie Council has an activity packet filled (pdf) with pi- and pie-related fun, games and food ideas.

– Pie cups at all Hill Country Chicken locations will be on sale for $3.14 on Saturday.

– Pie Corps in Greenpoint will offer a 10-inch pie for $31.41, while a 4-inch mini pie will fetch $3.14, according to, which highlighted five city spots featuring Pi Day pie specials.

In 2010’s “Moment of Geek”, Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” featured a math student teacher, Teresa Miller, from the University of New Mexico with a hula hoop and a Rubic’s Cube that was quite amazing.

I was never that energetic as a math student. Teresa should be a great math and phys ed teacher.

So, whatever you do today, eat something round and remember π.

Breakfast Tunes

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Albert Einstein born; Eli Whitney receives patent for cotton gin; First US Astronaut in space on Russian rocket; Michael Caine and Quincy Jones born.

Breakfast News

Were 47 Republican senators who wrote to Iran guilty of a crime? Erm, maybe …

The open letter that the Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton and 46 other Republican senators addressed to the Iranian regime this week may have been controversial, but was it a crime?

Nearly 250,000 people who have signed a petition claiming that these senators “committed a treasonous offense” certainly think so.

But the law that they claim Cotton violated is so obscure and unused that at least one legal expert thinks it doesn’t apply any more.

The point of contention is a law passed in 1799 called the Logan Act. It was passed by Congress in an angry backlash when a Pennsylvania state legislator named George Logan went to France, which was in a state of undeclared war with the United States at the time, and successfully negotiated to release impressed American seamen and restore trade between the two countries.

CIA director suggests Iraq functions as interlocutor in US-Iran fight against Isis

The director of the CIA came the closest of any US official so far to acknowledging cooperation between the US and Iran in their current war against the Islamic State in Iraq.

Asked during a Council on Foreign Relations appearance on Friday afternoon if the US was formally coordinating its airstrikes in Iraq with Iranian forces and proxies on the ground, CIA director John Brennan did not bat away the notion, as Obama administration officials typically do.

Instead, Brennan suggested that such coordination is laundered through the Iraqi government, Washington and Tehran’s mutual partner – something widely suspected as the Iraqi military and Shia militias attempt to claw back the city of Tikrit from Isis.

Angela Merkel’s office denies ‘private feud’ between Greece and Germany

The spokesman of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has denied a “private feud” has broken out between Berlin and Athens, as the radical Syriza government battles to avoid leaving the single currency – a risk euro-watchers have dubbed “Grexident“.

As Athens rushes to implement economic reforms and convince its creditors to extend emergency funding, Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s official spokesman, insisted Greece’s economic future should not be reduced to a face off between the two nations.

“I neither see a private feud nor do I view the whole issue of Greece and how it solves its problems as a bilateral German-Greek topic”, he said, reiterating that Merkel wants Greece to stay inside the single currency.

Tensions between Greece and Germany have been running high, after Syriza rekindled a row over war reparations to the Greek people earlier this week.

HSBC’s Swiss private bank: French prosecutor formally requests trial

The French financial state prosecutor has requested that HSBC’s Swiss private bank be sent to criminal trial over a suspected tax-dodging scheme for wealthy customers.

The recommendation follows a lengthy investigation by local magistrates into alleged tax fraud involving 3,000 French taxpayers and is a procedural step that brings the Swiss banking arm one step closer to a possible trial in France.

The parent company HSBC, which faces a separate ongoing French investigation, said: “This is a normal step in the judicial procedure and the outcome of the matter is not determined as of today.”

The bank has one month to respond after which French magistrates will take the final decision on whether to hold a trial.

Koch Industries refuses to comply with US senators’ climate investigation

The Koch brothers’ conglomerate Koch Industries has refused to comply with an investigation by three Senate Democrats into whether the company has funded groups or researchers who deny or cast doubt on climate change.

In response to a request from senators Barbara Boxer, Edward Markey and Sheldon Whitehouse for information about Koch Industries’ support for scientific research, Koch general counsel Mark Holden invoked the company’s first amendment rights.

“The activity efforts about which you inquire, and Koch’s involvement, if any, in them, are at the core of the fundamental liberties protected by the first amendment to the United States constitution,” Holden wrote the senators in a letter dated 5 March and posted online by Koch Industries this week.

Ferguson police chief not sure if shooter targeted officers or link to protesters

Police searching for the shooter of two officers in Ferguson, Missouri, have backed away from earlier suggestions that the suspect must have directly targeted the victims and was associated with protesters, saying on Friday that this was now unclear.

Chief Jon Belmar of the St Louis County Police department said at a press conference that he “honestly couldn’t tell you for sure” whether the person who shot one officer in the face and another in the shoulder on Wednesday night was linked to demonstrators at Ferguson’s police station.

Belmar told reporters that investigators had no suspects in custody for the shootings of the still-unnamed officers, who he said were “remarkably well”. However he said detectives were pursuing “scores of tips” passed on by cooperative people in the city.

Fifteen migrants protected under Obama’s executive order arrested

Federal agents – in a sweep targeting the most dangerous criminal immigrants – arrested 15 people who had been allowed to remain in the US under Barack Obama’s executive action intended to protect children who came to the country years ago with their parents, the Associated Press has learned.

Fourteen of the 15 had been convicted of a crime, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed late on Thursday. In at least one case, the administration renewed the protective status for a young immigrant after that person’s conviction in a drug case, a US official briefed on the arrests said.

One of the eligibility requirements for the programme is that immigrants not have a criminal history. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to discuss the matter by name.

West Virginia landslide forces Charleston residents to evacuate

A landslide next to a West Virginia hilltop airport has forced residents in about 25 Charleston homes to evacuate.

Media outlets report that the landslide began on Sunday, near the end of the main runway at Yeager Airport, and reached a critical point at midday on Thursday.

The landslide broke loose, taking out power lines, trees, an unoccupied home and a church. It also caused a nearby creek to rise. No injuries were reported, and no flights at the airport were affected.

The West Virginia national guard urged residents to evacuate area homes, and the West Virginia division of highways closed a portion of Keystone Drive.

The landslide occurred on a man-made emergency overrun area at the end of an extended part of the runway where the hilltop drops off. The area was built about eight years ago on top of an engineered fill of about 1.5m cubic yards of dirt.

Cyclone Pam: destructive storm slams into Vanuatu

A tropical cyclone has smashed into the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu and is believed to have caused widespread destruction.

Winds beginning to drop on Saturday, gradually revealing the extent of damage amid unconfirmed reports of dozens of deaths. Communication systems in many of the hard-hit outer islands remained down.

Chloe Morrison, a World Vision emergency communications officer stationed in Port Vila, said the capital’s streets were littered with roofs blown from homes, uprooted trees and downed power lines. She said she was hearing reports of entire villages being destroyed in more remote areas.

San Francisco to redirect stream of public urinators with hydrophobic walls

The city of San Francisco, tired of cleaning up after those who relieve themselves in the public, wants to test walls that pee back.

The San Francisco department of public works (DPW) is hoping to paint some of the city’s walls with hydrophobic (water-repellent) paint. If urinated upon, the paint makes the urine bounce off the wall – and back at the urinator’s feet.

In Europe, such paint has been proven to work. In Hamburg, walls in the St Pauli quarter of the city have been painted with a super-hydrophobic coating and given accompanying signs, which read: “Do not pee here. We pee back!” It was the Hamburg experiment, as captured in a YouTube video, that captured the attention of San Francisco officials.

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