3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169 … D’oh!

Today’s WordPress Prompt: By Heart — You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind?
(I was nudged to post this by Judy at lifelessons.)

I was a “cool”¹ nerd growing up – an insatiable reader, gobbler of knowledge. During the evening, my favorite pastime was grabbing a random volume of our family’s beloved World Book Encyclopedia and settling onto the couch to read article after unrelated article. My sophomore² year in high school I (inexplicably) decided to memorize Pi to as many decimals as possible. My (pre-Google) research tools were limited, and I could only find the value to 50 significant digits – 49 decimal places. A fellow sophomore decided to match my feat, and he did. (Well done, Carl!) I finally found a book that listed the 50th decimal place. (Zero, if you’re curious.) (Still zero if you’re not curious.) So I knew Pi to 50 decimals; Carl only knew it to 49. I win!! (I only let Carl twist for a few days before bringing him up to full, 50-decimal speed.) Ah, yes. High school – the good ol’ daze.

Oh, and, yes – I did type the value of Pi above from memory! I’m not bothering to count the number of decimal places, but it’s short of the 50 I once knew. I wonder what other knowledge I had to suppress to keep those digits in my mind all this time.

¹  Yes, the quotes are necessary.
²  Check out the etymology of sophomore. It applies so well here.

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8 thoughts on “3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169 … D’oh!

  1. Your post title is so long, it goes off of the white space of the main page (at least in my browser). Not that it’s a big deal, just pointing it out. Anyway, next year will be the only time for another 100 years that the first five numbers, 3.1415, will be a date on the calendar.

    Like

  2. I’ve just caught up with this and well remember, being British, that as I had to have a ‘party piece’, as we call such showing off of trivial feats, Well at the age of just six , I think I did it for my sixth birthday party, I memorised every president and vice president of the US. Then I add every state and the state capital. What amazes me is that next month I will have held this knowledge in my head, adding to it as the presidents changed, and 67 years later I can still do it. Do you want to know the secret? Well every three months, I note it in my forward diary, I rehearse my recital of these lists. It’s like prayers after a very long time you can’t get them wrong if you try. Is that clever? No, not at all, just showing off. But at least I know it is 🙂

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