On Pi Day, It’s Okay to be Irrational
The last year has seen many advances in the practical use of mathematics. There’s no better time to highlight some examples than on March 14 (3/14 in US terms), the annual celebration of mathematics and the mathematical constant Pi.
In August 2022, there was an event that captured little media publicity but may have a significant impact on the world going forward. The first maker to successfully repulsively land their homemade rocket in the same way as the SpaceX Falcon 9, and singlehandedly changed the accessibility of advanced science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Today is Pi Day, a day dedicated to the celebration of the mathematical constant pi (π), the never-ending number that has captured the imagination of mathematicians for centuries. So, let’s take a moment to appreciate some of the incredible contributions that mathematicians have made to the world we live in today.
One such example is our Joe Barnard from BPS.space who made the impossible possible by successfully landing his homemade rocket using only open-source software, his ingenuity, and 7-year dedication. His success proves that mathematics truly is the language of the universe, and that with enough determination, anything is possible.
But mathematics isn’t just useful for rocket science. It’s also essential in a wide range of applications, including industrial vacuum pumps used in our air conditioning and extremely clean semiconductor industries. These pumps rely on complex mathematical formulas to calculate the flow rate of the gas that can be removed from a given environment. This calculation helps to optimize the efficiency, effectiveness, and longevity of the pump.
The sensor measurements of these pumps are processed by data analytics tools. Cumulocity IoT Analytics Builder is a great example of how mathematics can be used by the masses to improve business operations. This self-service tool enables companies to create customized analytics models quickly and easily. By leveraging the power of mathematics, businesses can gain insights into equipment behavior, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions.
Of immediate importance is using mathematics to reduce energy consumption. By using mathematical algorithms and models, GreenFlex has been able to help enterprises optimize their equipment energy usage, reducing costs and minimizing their environmental impact.
We can’t talk about mathematics without mentioning the Fields Medal, one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics. The recent winners are a testament to the incredible work being done in this field. From Hugo Duminil-Copin, who solved longstanding problems in the probabilistic theory of phase transitions in statistical physics, to Maryam Viazovska, for the proof that the E8 lattice provides the densest packing of identical spheres in 8 dimensions, these mathematicians are pushing the boundaries of what we know and inspiring the next generation of mathematical geniuses.
I admit that I’m a bit of a tech nerd, so it was great to recently take my daughters to the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park to see Colossus, which broke the Enigma machine, and the many interactive STEM exhibits. One that had an immediate impact was the Sphero toys, made popular through their creation of the Star Wars BB-8 version. These programmable robots can be controlled using a smartphone or tablet, and allow the kids to learn about coding, robotics, and mathematics.
Finally, let’s not forget one of the most delicious applications of mathematics: pizza! Did you know that there is 21% empty space in a square pizza box? By calculating the volume of the box and subtracting the volume of the pizza, you can determine how much space there is to store your accompaniments and keep your hands free. It also helps pizza makers reduce their packaging costs and minimize waste.
Mathematics plays a critical role in our world, from everyday rocket science to data analytics to pizza boxes. It’s essential to celebrate the contributions of mathematicians and inspire the next generation of problem-solvers. So, let’s raise a slice of pi(e) and toast to the power of mathematics!
Happy Pi Day!