I was thinking about pi. The number, not the food, obviously. If I wrote down every time I thought about pie, I’d never get anything done. Anyway, pi is a really important number. It shows up in trigonometry and electrical engineering and in pretentious, over-rated black and white indie films. Basically, everything that the average person says that they will never use, yet is absolutely vital to the design and function of every device that makes modern society possible, uses pi. And yet the number is a giant, tangled up mess of nonterminating decimal places… Doesn’t that seem wrong? We can never get to the end of it! Never know it accurately! In essence, all of technology is built upon a rough estimate. It is almost like physics has a built in encryption that keeps us from completely reverse engineering it. The Universe has DRM.
Pi isn’t the only example of this, either. Take the year for example. It is 365 days, right? Oh, except for on leap years, then its 366… And except for every 100 years. Then it is 365 again… Unless that 100th year actually falls on a 400th year, then it is 366 again. Basically, there are 365.2425 days in a year… Seriously? We can’t get the day to be exact? Never mind the universe on this one, either. Human beings got to define the length of the day. And the year, for that matter. Maybe it is time we let the year be exactly 365 days every year. Or better yet, 360. Twelve months, thirty days each. Nice and simple. What’s the worst that could happen? Our birthdays and other celebrations would slowly crawl around the calendar? Sounds good to me! I’m sick of my birthday always being in the winter. And Christmas would probably be an even bigger commercial boon if it fell in the summer every now and then. There’d be four sets of seasonal songs for every holiday. We might see 4th of July fireworks in a blizzard. Black history month could be in a season with nice weather for once. I really don’t see a downside to this one.
Here’s another fun little one. Anyone remember what we were taught an atom looks like? Little dots with littler dots whizzing around it? Well, that’s not what they look like anymore. Now they are little dots with clouds of varying littler dot/not littler dotness around them. Some parts are spinning in one direction, others are spinning in another. Others are spinning in both directions at the same time. All the little dots are made of littler dots, which are in turn made of still littlerer ones, and eventually all of those dots end up being weightless. What’s that you say? If they are all weightless, how come the stuff you make out of them weighs something? It turns out that in order to answer that question you need to build a doomsday machine called a larger hadron collider, presumably to threaten to destroy the world if Alex Trebec doesn’t tell us the answer. (We know you know the answer, Trebec. Don’t make us create a black hole to get it.) Meanwhile, these little dots are sneaky and private. Thanks to some jerk named Heisenburg, we aren’t even allowed to know where there are and how fast they are going at the same time. Evidently sub-atomic particles are the Dick Cheneys of the cosmos, pixelating their little mansions on google earth so we can’t eaves drop.
In closing, lets get back to pi. Now that I’ve stirred up this hornet’s nest, how do I solve the problem? Well, I gave it a lot of thought, and I think I have a solution. We switch to a base pi counting system. Then pi will equal 10! Sure, no other number will work out even, but who cares! And sure, it isn’t exactly clear to the average person how you work with a numerical system with an irrational fraction base… Listen, there are flaws, granted, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Let’s see… If the numbers go 0,1,2,3,10 – where 10 = pi – then I’d be… 213.12 years old right now. See! Already life expectancies are skyrocketing! I knew this would be a good idea.