# Slices of pi

Francis has done very well to work out what’s going on with the Oregon pi sculpture that I commented about. I do think he’s harsh in "stick[ing] it to [me]", though.

In my post, I told you that:

• It’s not pi to 106 decimal places: correct
• The second row should read 897932384626, assuming it’s intended to continue where the first row finished: correct
• After offering a couple of possibilities as to what it might be (pi in a random order, a pi word-search-style number search), I hypothesised "maybe it’s just wrong. Seems like a lot of effort, and a lot of accuracy for something that’s so wrong, though." Again, correct

At no point in the post did I call the sculpture a numpty for his seeming amateurish knowledge of pi. I didn’t say the sculptor was wrong, but did indicate my lack of understanding for what he was portraying. And even reading Francis’ explanation, I maintain this view—unless there’s a more poetic story to explain the rationale, it seems bizarre to me.

Francis’ post does show the high number of characters/numbers that a cell can hold in Excel 12, though.

As an aside, I was thinking today that I’d like to build a house with a digit of pi pre-engraved on each brick. The leading 3 would appear in the top left corner, and the decimal expansion would continue from left to right, top to bottom down the house. It’d take some accurate brick planning, though.

Good work on working out what’s going on, Francis. I’m still perplexed, though.

Update:

So, I’ve taken Francis’ analysis to the next level now that he’s given the hint, and below’s what I’ve found.

Here’s the original sculpture, with some colour-coding.

And here’s where it appears in pi’s decimal expansion.

Here and here are links to bigger versions of the two images.

The number down the left plus the number at the top gives the decimal place number of each digit. So decimal place 305 is an eight.

Essentially, the cyan area has been picked up, shifted down a row and plonked to the left of the yellow bit, shunting it off to the right so that everything lines up. And the purple has done the same with the cyan. The only weird exception is the 897932 string which has been put on the right hand side of the top row, occuping positions 11–16.

It’s very strange. Very strange indeed.

3 Responses to “Slices of pi”

1. Art Vandelay on May 26th, 2007 08:01

This is as exciting and intriguing my life has been for weeks. I’m hooked Jerry!

2. Dan on May 26th, 2007 08:08

You and I both need to get out more of a Saturday night…

3. Jon on May 26th, 2007 08:43

Well, I’m just pleased that so much ‘pi-age’ is being got out of this – makes the trip up there to photograph it seem very worthwhile…

And for those that are wondering about a trip to Portland to see this pi of art, the light rail that this is contained in also serves Washington Park, with some great walking trails, Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum and the Forest Discovery Center, as well as the Vietnam War Memorial Peace Garden all withing a few minutes walk.

Well, you never know…