Some people celebrate by eating pie. Mathematicians celebrate “pi”. The Boise State Math Club does both. Thursday, March 14 members of the math club as well as other students wandered into the Jordan Ballroom in the Student Union Building. Tables and tables of blueberry, cherry and apple pie greeted around 100 students ready to delve into an evening of pie/pi. Before any math talk could begin, people ate pie, chatted and eventually ambled to their seats.
While waiting for the line-up of speakers, two freshmen girls shared why they decided to come. Kristen Smith, an athletic training major was there for “credit and free pie”, and her friend Haley Barrett, an elementary education major came for moral support.
“I don’t really know what’s going to happen, so we’ll see,” Barrett said.
Barrett and the rest of the pi celebrators would soon find out what was coming their way. Cohost Billy Hudson, a math professor at Boise State, threw a few math jokes around to get things rolling, drawing a chuckle from the true mathematicians in the audience.
“I am pretty impressed; I did not anticipate this many people coming out for a pi day celebration,” Hudson said.
The large audience then welcomed Mary Smith, a math professor at Boise State, to the stage.
Smith started the evening by skimming the history of pi. Historically, figuring out this “pi” thing was quite the ordeal. Egyptians, Hebrews and the Babylonians worked, using several different methods, to find numbers very close to the irrational number 3.14, which is the number we associate with pi today.
Smith was followed by Tim Murdock who explained the slowest method of calculating pi. This talk included quite of bit of calculus/quantitative reasoning jargon, but students were enthralled nonetheless. Also, people never really stopped eating pie.
Next up was “pi” on the piano. Yes, Jesse Holmes, played “pi” on the piano. Somehow, using incredible calculations the average person would not comprehend, Jesse wowed the crowd with a near perfect wave of musical “pi”.
Josue Gomez said of all the presenters, the piano piece is what he would take away from the evening.
“Pi is an interesting number because it deals with circles and circles imply perfection. Mathematicians can tell you all the time [math is] a beautiful, beautiful study and sometimes you can translate that into music. So, I guess it’s artistic. So that is what I enjoy,” Gomez said.
The evening ended with speaker Uwe Kaiser sharing with students The Riemann Zeta Function, the audience zoned in to concentrate on yet another speech about “pi.” Again, a language known only to calculus masters spewed from the pulpit.
Following the final speaker, students gradually made it back to the pie table to get another quick round of pie and chat with other students about the highlights of the night, including “pi” on the piano.
Boise State Math Club President Nilab Mohammad Mousa explained her goal for the event.
“I just wanted (students) to have exposure to the math department and I actually wanted this even to be fun, not really serious. And that’s why we have free pie,” Mousa said.
Students ended conversations and headed for home, presumably with a whole new appreciation for pie/pi. The one thing that could have made the night better according to Gomez was, “they should’ve brought milk. That is my only, only critique.”