People love to describe and visualize pi. A lot.

What’s with our odd obsession with calculating or memorizing this irrational number out to seemingly absurd levels of precision? Whether it’s reciting the first 100,000 digits from memory (the current record), or calculating it out to 10 trillion digits, some people can’t help but dig deep into irrationality.

Frankly, much of that is to just prove that it can be done. While calculating pi out to ludicrous limits can be a good test for high-powered computing and to test mathematical theories, it’s no more necessary for science than you being able to shove 37 marshmallows in your mouth is to your life (or maybe 38 … push yourself).

But sometimes, just doing something to prove we can is worthwhile on its own. This is why people run marathons and eat 69 hot dogs in ten minutes.

So how much pi is enough pi? NASA can satisfy pretty much all of their spaceflight needs by reaching out to just 15 or 16 places, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology meets its most demanding computer benchmarks with just 32 digits.

And how many do we need? You could figure out your position on a circle with the radius of the Earth down to the millimeter with just 10 digits of pi. As for me, I won’t be memorizing anything more than where the “pi” key is on my calculator. As Albert Einstein once said, “[I do not] carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books.

It’s poetic, really. Pi is a sort of Platonic ideal. It’s a value that, no matter how far we dig back into its depths, we will never fully describe, its irrational tail stretching further and further back into infinity. The circle never ends.


Ask Your Guru: Kuraara Asks Clickiemcpete

In this new age of technology, distance is no longer a problem especially when it comes to interacting!

That’s one great innovation man has eventually developed. Need to ask a few questions? Need to show something? There are e-mails and video calls for that now! And we’re thankful because us, curious analogue cats, can always ask our fellow Lomographers about anything and everything under the analogue sun. Heck yes, we’ve also got ourAsk Your Guru feature for that!

John Venn popularized the diagram we associate with his name, but he did not invent it. It was likely used at least a century before him, and probably long before that by anyone with a stick, a plan, and some dirt. And he most certainly didn’t call them “Venn diagrams” while he was alive, which would have been a pretty egotistical thing to do.

"You know what would explain this? A ‘Me’ diagram."

They are related to a way of describing data sets called Euler diagrams, who are named after a guy named Euler who probably didn’t call them “Euler diagrams”. John Venn actually called his “Euler circles”. Each of these diagrams have a simple definition: A set of closed curves drawn in a plane (like on paper) whose spatial representation shows you how their data relate. They are a stunningly simple way to explain logical relationships using geometry, actually.

If the circles are too hard for you to draw, you could always opt for the deluxe five-ellipse edition:

And who says that freehand circles are impossible to sketch? There’s a whole world championship for that, featuring guys like this: