Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pi Day and More

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Today is pi day, March 14 (you recall pi: 3.14... and its use in geometry. It is our favorite or most remembered irrational number.)

Interestingly, it is also Albert Einstein's birthday.

And today is the day that Stephen Hawking died. You may recall that when he was 20 years old, he was told that he didn't have long to live. He had Lou Gehrig's disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Hawking lived to age 76 and was busy to the end.

Here are some facts about Pi day and hints on how it is celebrated.

And here is the web page for Pi day.

There will be much written about Stephen Hawking today. I went immediately to one of my very favorite writers on theoretical physics, Dr. Sabine Hossenfeld, who has written a loving and informed tribute to Professor Hawking. Read it...scan it at least, for an idea of his contributions, one of which was to show that there is still some unfinished business in physics--the need for a theory of quantum gravity if we are to have a full understanding of nature.

There are many words one could use to describe him. I'd be hard pressed to pick one but determination comes to mind.  I heard him speak at the University of Minnesota in another century. Coffman Auditorium was packed. I was glad to be there. I still remember his remarkable and engaging sense of humor but not much else!

I include a talk by theoretician Sean Carroll on  "What Would Stephen Hawking Do?" Please listen to the first few minutes. Carroll tells a very funny story about first meeting Hawking. The entire talk is only about 12 minutes long and Carroll is a great speaker.

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