Twenty-nine years ago today, a physicist at the Exploratorium in San Francisco decided to celebrate Pi Day, which comes but once a year on March 14—numerically rendered as 3-14, echoing the famous first three digits of the number pi, which are 3.14. Which is the ratio of a circle’s diameter to its circumference, which in fact does not stop at 3.14 but goes on infinitely, unpredictably, forever.
Here, for example, are the first 100 digits of pi:
And so on.
The enthusiast, a particle physicist named Peter Trueb, actually made his breakthrough in November, using a free computer program created by a developer named Alexander Yee. And it’s not the first time Yee’s program has been used to elongate pi, the purpose for which the program was designed.
“Imagine trying to multiply two numbers that are a trillion digits long on a blackboard,” Yee told New Scientist. “It just wouldn’t work.”
It would be, at the very least, difficult.
But while the new pi is quite the feat, it isn’t very useful, practically speaking at least.
“NASA only uses around 15 digits of pi in its calculations for sending rockets into space. To get an atom-precise measurement of the universe, you would only need around 40,” New Scientist reports, “So computing trillions of digits of pi is mostly about showing off computer power.”