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The Never-ending Argument: The Naming of Pi

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“Three-ish?”
“Three and a half, I say!”
“Definitely more.”
“As if you would know!”
Circumference and Diameter were at it again.
“I say, it’s three and a quarter!!!”
Mu sidled up to the debating duo. “What is it now?” he demanded crossly.
Di drew herself up with an indignant expression. “You tell this unholy, miserable excuse for a Measurement that he is NOT more than three and a quarter times my size! Less than that, I say!!!” She shot a glare at said Measurement.
“You’re the midget!” Circ retorted.
Mu sighed. “It’s impossible to know for sure by simply eyeballing. I don’t think I can help you.”
At this time, Alpha, First Greek Letter, joined the discussion, his expression amiable. “I don’t think there is any way to tell, so why don’t the two of you knuckleheads just stop bickering?”
“Eh-hem,” a new voice interrupted.
The newcomer was Theta. “This controversy is their passion. They can’t do much besides argue about such things. It’s important to them, just not anyone else.” She shrugged as if to indicate “well, what can I say.”
The last member of the group arrived in a sprint, panting.
Mu was the first to spot him. “Hey, Pi!”
“Pie?” Alpha asked hopefully. “I’m starving!”
Theta lightly flicked Alpha in the head. “No, you moron, not the edible pie, but Pi! You know, our friend?”
“Oh.”
“Edible pie, I say!”
“Stuff a monkey in it, Di!” Circ snapped.
“Hi, guys!” Pi greeted them enthusiastically. Seeing that Circ and Di were refusing to make eye contact, he guessed the source of conflict. “You’re debating about how much taller Circ is than you again?” he asked Di.
The two nodded curtly—simultaneously, in fact. Then they glared at each other.
Pi thought for a moment.
“Brilliant idea coming on?” Mu prompted anxiously, ready to end the argument once and for all.
Everyone waited in anticipation. Pi was known for being a mathematical genius. If anyone could resolve the conflict, it would be Pi.
“Well,” he said at last (his friends were snatching up each word like a diamond as it dropped from his mouth), “Let us measure the two of you and do some division.”
“Division…” Alpha groaned, obviously recalling an unpleasant memory. “That was the thing that I was the worst at back in the day…”
“Are you sure that was what you were the worst at?” Mu teased. “I seemed to remember you bellyaching about logs and e’s last year like there was no tomorrow.”
“Thanks,” Alpha muttered.
“Welcome,” his friend returned.
So with a measuring stick that had increments of a hundredth of an inch, Pi set about to measuring his two argumentative friends.
Once the measurements were done, Pi began his mental math number-crunching.
“Three point one…” he began
“You see, it is less than three and a quarter!”
“Sh!!” Everyone shushed Di to allow Pi think.
“Four…”
“Twenty-two over seven?” Theta guessed.
“Close, but no…uh, let me start over. Three point one four one five…”
“C’mon!”
“SHH!!”
“Nine two—” Pi stopped abruptly.
“Is that all?” Mu demanded.
“Er, no.”
“Then what’s the holdup?” Alpha wanted to know.
“Well, you see, I think that the number goes on forever…”
“That’s irrational!” Di yelled.
“Indeed it is irrational, for it cannot be expressed at a ratio of two numbers.”
“That’s not what she meant,” Theta laughed.
“How are we ever going to figure it out then?” Circ grumbled.
Pi studied a sheet that contained past measurements of Circumference and Diameter at younger age. After a minute, he said, “Fascinating…”
“Fascinating? Fascinating what?” Di asked.
“The ratio of Circ’s height to yours has always been constant,” Pi explained.
“What?” said Alpha.
“Three point one four one five nine two—” Pi recited.
“Okay, we know, so get to the point!” Mu interrupted.
“Well, I suppose we should name this irrational number,” Theta remarked.
“How about Fido?” Alpha suggested.
“How ridiculous!” Di ranted. “I have never heard such an outlandish, abhorrent name!”
Mu closed his eyes and sighed. Di was incorrigible.
“Pie!” Alpha said randomly.
“Huh?” Pi asked, thinking that he was being addressed.
“I’m really starving, y’know.”
“Oh…”
“Hey, that’s it!” Theta exclaimed in delight.
“What’s it?”
“Cheese.”
“Enough food references!!!”
Theta continued. “We should name the number Pi. After all, Pi was the one who figured it out.”
Pi was embarrassed. “There’s no need…” he muttered.
But the others cast a unanimous vote to name it Pi, so he could say no more about it.
“Better than saying ‘three point one four one five nine two, et cetera, et cetera,’” Mu said.
So, for at least a week on end after that incident, Circ would grumble and complain about the outcome of the argument while Di pranced around in utter triumph.





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