On Saturday morning, at 9:26 and 53 seconds, DePaul University Professor Jeff Bergen will abruptly stop teaching his abstract algebra class.
Bergen isn’t sure what he’ll do next, but if his students are truly devoted to their subject, if mathematics is an all-consuming passion, their raison d’être — they’ll know what he’s up to.
Because, of course, Saturday is national Pi Day — a celebration of that most magical of mathematical constants, better known as 3.141592653, etc.
This year, in a once-in-a-century event, the day falls on 3.14.15.
Add the next five digits of the famous number — 92653 — and you have the reason for Bergen’s planned pause.
“That’s not just Pi Day, that’s a super, super pi moment,” Bergen said. “And then, for the rest of the class, they can think about who will end up in the NCAA tournament or if their kids need new clothes for school.”
For most of the rest of us, pi is a concept that flares into existence in middle school and then gets swept into a dark crevice in our brains gathering dust along with terms like mitochondria and biomass.
But math lovers say Pi Day should remind all of us that math is something to embrace, not fear, and that it’s all around us. Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it diameter. And regardless of the size of the circle, pi remains the same.
“Any time you do anything with a circle, whether it’s making a pizza pie or fitting a wheel for a car, you are interested in a circle — you are interested in the connections between the radius and diameter, circumference and the area [of the circle],” Bergen said.
And even if you don’t care about any of that stuff, you can still enjoy Pi Day. There are a host of Pi-Day-related events going on across the city and nationally.
Adler Planetarium is holding “The Ultimate Pi Day” celebration from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday geared toward families. It includes a pie eating contest and a “parachuting pies” demonstration, among other activities.
From 6 to 10 p.m., there’s an event for those 21 years and older, includes several cash bars, music from Vocalo’s DJ Collective and a panel discussion.
The Museum of Science and Industry plans to give away a free slice of pizza or pie to the first 314 guests Saturday. The museum’s Brain Food Court plans to offer pizza and pie for $3.14 a slice.