3/14/15: The Most Precise Pi Day to Date

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by Jason Sylvestre, Special Collections

“Cross my heart and hope to die. / Here’s the digits that make pi: 3.1415926535897932384….”

—The Simpsons

If it’s been a while since you’ve calculated the area of a circle, the volume of a cylinder, or the surface area of a sphere, you may be a little rusty on pi, the mathematical constant defined as the number of times the diameter of a circle can be wrapped around its circumference.

Increasingly, however, pi is becoming unforgettable with the growing popularity of National Pi Day. Participation in the holiday involves sharing in an elaborate spread of the homophonous pastry, whose shape serves as a reminder of pi’s significant geometric contribution.

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Life of Pi (2012), directed by Ang Lee, based on the 2001 novel by Yann Martel.

Even before Pi Day was officially established, however, pi has had a high pop culture significance, as the above quote from The Simpsons and many other movie and television references attest. (In the particular scene from a 1997 episode, two young girls at a gifted school are reciting the non-repeating digits as a playground chant while playing the game of patty-cake.)[i]

Pi as we know it today is a few thousand years in the making. The concept was first explored by the Babylonians and Egyptians around 1650 BC. A Babylonian tablet dating between 1900-1680 BC gives a value for pi as 3.125, while the Egyptian Rhind Papyrus (ca 1650) defined pi as 3.1605. Greek mathematician Archimedes’ famed work with polygons led him to arrive at the approximation of pi as 3.14. The symbol for pi, π, was first proposed in 1706 by Welsh mathematician William Jones, and became widely used after pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler included the symbol in his 1736 work, Mechanica.

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Finding the area of a circle is arguably the most well-known usage of pi: A=πr^2

Pi has proved extremely useful when dealing with geometry problems involving circles. Finding the area of a circle is arguably the most well-known usage of pi: A=πr^2. Pi also provides the formula for finding the volume of a cylinder: A=πr^2h. Although scientific applications do not generally require more than 40 digits of pi, modern computing power has allowed mathematicians to calculate pi to more than 13.3 trillion digits!

In 1988, to celebrate the wonderful, irrational number that is pi, physicist Larry Shaw of the San Francisco Exploratorium designated March 14 (3/14), the first three digits of pi, to march around a circular space at the museum with his colleagues while consuming fruit pies.[ii]

In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives recognized March 14, 2009, as National Pi Day. March 14, 2015, will be the most precise Pi Day to date. At 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m. the date and time will correspond with the first 10 digits of pi, 3.141592653.

In order to celebrate this momentous mathematical occasion, the Richter Library suggests exploring these books and movies—and be sure to enjoy a slice of pie with your pi.

Books

On Pi:

The Number Pi by Pierre Eymard, Jean-Pierre Lafon; translated by Stephen S. Wilson

The Joy of Pi by David Blatner

On Pie:

America’s Best Harvest Pies by Linda Hoskins

Better Homes and Gardens 365 Pies and Tarts

Pot Pies by Beatrice Ojakangas

Key lime Cookin’ by Joyce LaFray Young

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Movies

Life of Pi (DVD)

Pi (DVD)

[i] The Simpsons, “Lisa’s Sax.” October 19, 1997.

[ii] “A Brief History of π,” The Exploratorium, http://www.exploratorium.edu/pi/history_of_pi/index.html



Movies of 2015: The books on which they’re based, now on OverDrive

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Check out UML’s latest selection of downloadable popular eBooks and audiobooks for your mobile device available through OverDrive.

There are several highly anticipated movies on the horizon for 2015, such as Serena, In the Heart of the Sea, and True Story, to name a few. Below – and just added to our collection – are the books on which many of these upcoming films are based.

Click here to browse other new additions to the collection.

 

Don’t Point That Thing At Me (Mortdecai book one) by Kyril Bonfiglioli
(Mortdecai release date January 23, 2015)

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
(Fifty Shades of Grey release date February 13, 2015)

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
(In the Heart of the Sea release date March 13, 2015)

Serena by Ron Rash
(Serena release date March 27, 2015)

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa by Michael Finkel
(True Story release date tentatively April 10, 2015)

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
(The Longest Ride release date April 10, 2015)

Paper Towns by John Green
(Paper Towns release date June 5th, 2015)

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
(Me Before You release date August 21, 2015)

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games book three) by Suzanne Collins
(The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 release date Nov 20, 2015)

The Martian by Andy Weir
(The Martian release date November 25, 2015)

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
(Dark Places release date TBD)

 



Life in an Archive: Records of a Library Champion

Archived Photographs and Stories Preserve the Legacy of Dr. Archie McNeal

by Koichi Tasa, University Archivist

Dr. Archie McNeal, director of the Libraries who served from 1952 to 1979, oversaw the completion of the Otto G. Richter Library.

Dr. Archie McNeal, director of the Libraries who served from 1952 to 1979, oversaw the completion of the Otto G. Richter Library. 

Throughout Archives Month, University of Miami Libraries (UML) archivists have been sharing stories conveying the importance of access to archives and the unique and historical materials preserved in them. The University Archives is a resource that houses photographs, yearbooks, student newspapers, administrative records, memorabilia, and many other materials pertaining to UM history.

Weeks ago I exchanged a heartwarming correspondence with a community member who had found an Otto G. Richter Library brochure from the 1960s while going through family albums. She wondered if we’d be interested in adding it to our collections. She also mentioned being the niece of the late Dr. Archie L. McNeal, the first director of the University Libraries who served from 1952 to 1979. With more than thirty-five years having passed since Dr. McNeal’s retirement, the donor didn’t expect anyone currently at the Libraries to remember her uncle’s name, yet I knew the name quite well.

In fact, the important legacy of Dr. McNeal and his service to the University is one that is well preserved at the Archives: Dr. McNeal led the Libraries through an important phase of collection development, during which the Libraries’ holdings grew from 273,000 volumes to approximately 1.4 million volumes. He oversaw the construction of the Richter Library, completed in 1962, and is also well known for leading a number of important scholarly research initiatives.

Searching for Dr. McNeal’s name led quickly to a number of links to online records from his tenure, including archived articles from The Miami Hurricane describing some of the library programs initiated under his leadership and iconic photos from the 1950s through 1970s featuring Dr. McNeal in action at the library (such as the ones in this post). I was honored to be able to provide Dr. McNeal’s niece with these records that document his important work at the Libraries, and am happy to share them with you as a part of Archives Month. Check out more photos of this former director in UML’s Digital Collections for a glimpse into the early years of the library and an important time of growth for our University.

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Dr. Archie McNeal and Jay F. W. Pearson, former president of the University of Miami. 

Stay tuned throughout Archives Month for stories about how UM students, researchers, donors, and community members are breathing life into UM Libraries’ unique and distinctive collections. Happy Archives Month!



COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: Train Approaching UM’s Student Union

marcia-headshot_thumbA Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Marcia Heath, University Archives technician

 

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Train approaching Student Union, University of Miami Office of Communications and Marketing Historical Photograph Collection [Collection in Process]

A recent and generous donation from the University of Miami’s Office of Communications and Marketing has provided us with several boxes of captivating photographs which hail as far back as the mid-1900s and capture the essence of university life from UM’s formative years to the present. The growth and transformation of our campus is well documented in these photographs through candid, everyday shots of students, faculty, and staff. The photographs also focus on a particularly interesting aspect of the University during the near decade in which UM owned its very own locomotive train line.

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The Gold Coast Railroad operated from 1958 to 1966. University of Miami Office of Communications and Marketing Historical Photograph Collection [Collection in Process]

How this even transpired was largely due to the efforts of several train enthusiasts in University of Miami’s early administration, who managed to convince the U.S. General Services Administration to lease a set of railroad tracks that had been located near the University of Miami South campus to the University to be turned into a fully operational train. The Miami Railroad Historical Society was then formed and placed in charge of the entire operation, and they officially named the line “The Gold Coast Railroad.” It remained in service from 1958 to 1966, acquiring new train carts along the way through generous donations and concentrated efforts from the administration, and eventually expanded enough to offer rides to the general public.

The Gold Coast Railroad was discontinued during the Cuban Missile Crisis so that the land could be used by the CIA. The train line never reopened. However, the cherished memories of this once treasured University feature are well preserved through these photos. Be sure to visit the University Archives at the Otto G. Richter Library to view this collection.

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.



UM Libraries’ Archivists Kick Off “Life in an Archive” Series

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by Jay Sylvestre, Special Collections Librarian

October has been designated by the Society of American Archives as Archives Month, a collaborative effort by professional organizations, libraries, and archives around the nation to highlight the importance of the records we hold and to raise public awareness about the value of historical records and collections.

To celebrate Archives Month, archivists and librarians from UM Libraries’ unique and distinctive collections will be sharing stories from our experiences working in the archives at the University of Miami. The series will be called “Life in an Archive,” focusing on the stories of people who have used and/or donated to our collections.

Stories will be told from the perspective of archivists who have had the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world:

  • University Archivist Koichi Tasa will talk about leading UM alumni and their family members to photographs and records from their time at UM.
  • Cuban Heritage Collection Librarian Meiyolet Méndez and Archivist Natalie Baur will discuss helping researchers make new discoveries on Cuba and its diaspora.
  • Special Collections Librarian Jay Sylvestre and Manuscripts Librarian Beatrice Skokan will show how artist’s books, zines, and other unique materials held at Special Collections have impacted people’s lives.
  • Electronic Records Archivist Laura Capell and Visiting Archivist Emily Gibson will share stories from working with the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records Collection.

It is interactions like these with members of our community that provide the archivists and librarians at UM Libraries with a rich set of stories to share. Stay tuned for posts this month about alumni, veterans, researchers, and donors who have allowed us to be a part of their journey. I hope that you enjoy reading our stories as much as we enjoy sharing them.

Happy Archives Month!