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Redefine Pi

  1. Yes, the government over there is not educated at all.

    8 vote(s)
    80.0%
  2. No, they just have differing opinions and interpretations of pi.

    2 vote(s)
    20.0%
  1. Mar 8, 2007 #1

    Gib Z

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    Quote:

    "Bill seeks to change value of pi

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala.[1] NASA engineers and mathematicians in this high-tech city are stunned and infuriated after the Alabama state legistature narrowly passed a law yesterday redefining (pi), a mathematical constant used in the aerospace industry. The bill to change the value of to exactly 3 was introduced without fanfare by Leonard Lee Lawson (R, Crossville), and rapidly gained support after a letter-writing campaign by members of the Solomon Society, a traditional values group. Governor Guy Hunt says he will sign it into law on Wednesday.

    The law took the state's engineering community by surprise. "It would have been nice if they had consulted with someone who actually uses ," said Marshall Bergman, a manager at the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. According to Bergman, is a Greek letter that signifies the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It is often used by engineers to calculate missile trajectories.

    Prof. Kim Johanson, a mathematician from University of Alabama, said that is a universal constant, and cannot arbitrarily be changed by lawmakers. Johanson explained that is an irrational number, which means that it has an infinite number of digits after the decimal point and can never be known exactly. Nevertheless, she said, is precisly defined by mathematics to be "3.14159, plus as many more digits as you have time to calculate".

    "I think that it is the mathematicians that are being irrational, and it is time for them to admit it," said Lawson. "The Bible very clearly says in I Kings 7:23 that the alter font of Solomon's Temple was ten cubits across and thirty cubits in diameter, and that it was round in compass."

    Lawson called into question the usefulness of any number that cannot be calculated exactly, and suggested that never knowing the exact answer could harm students' self-esteem. "We need to return to some absolutes in our society," he said, "the Bible does not say that the font was thirty-something cubits. Plain reading says thirty cubits. Period."

    Science supports Lawson, explains Russell Humbleys, a propulsion technician at the Marshall Spaceflight Center who testified in support of the bill before the legislature in Mongtomery on Monday. " is merely an artifact of Euclidean geometry." Humbleys is working on a theory which he says will prove that is determined by the geometry of three-dimensional space, which is assumed by physicists to be "isotropic", or the same in all directions.

    "There are other geometries, and is different in every one of them," says Humbleys. Scientists have arbitrarily assumed that space is Euclidean, he says. He points out that a circle drawn on a spherical surface has a different value for the ratio of circumfence to diameter. "Anyone with a compass, flexible ruler, and globe can see for themselves," suggests Humbleys, "it's not exactly rocket science."

    Roger Learned, a Solomon Society member who was in Montgomery to support the bill, agrees. He said that is nothing more than an assumption by the mathematicians and engineers who were there to argue against the bill. "These nabobs waltzed into the capital with an arrogance that was breathtaking," Learned said. "Their prefatorial deficit resulted in a polemical stance at absolute contraposition to the legislature's puissance."

    Some education experts believe that the legislation will affect the way math is taught to Alabama's children. One member of the state school board, Lily Ponja, is anxious to get the new value of into the state's math textbooks, but thinks that the old value should be retained as an alternative. She said, "As far as I am concerned, the value of is only a theory, and we should be open to all interpretations." She looks forward to students having the freedom to decide for themselves what value should have.

    Robert S. Dietz, a professor at Arizona State University who has followed the controversy, wrote that this is not the first time a state legislature has attempted to redifine the value of . A legislator in the state of Indiana unsuccessfully attempted to have that state set the value of pi to 3. According to Dietz, the lawmaker was exasperated by the calculations of a mathematician who carried to four hundred decimal places and still could not achieve a rational number. Many experts are warning that this is just the beginning of a national battle over between traditional values supporters and the technical elite. Solomon Society member Lawson agrees. "We just want to return to its traditional value," he said, "which, according to the Bible, is three." [2]

    End Quote.



    What idiocy is this?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 8, 2007 #2

    cristo

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    I don't think it's serious! Where's this taken from?
     
  4. Mar 8, 2007 #3

    Gib Z

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    A newspaper...i've read about it in several places..its dead serious..
     
  5. Mar 8, 2007 #4

    cristo

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  6. Mar 8, 2007 #5

    Curious3141

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    I don't like fake chain mails like this one, even as April Fools' jokes. This is because there was a *real* incident in 1897 where some buffoons tried to get a law enacted to redefine pi. Coming up with a *fake* new incident only detracts from the crazy truth and adds to the confusion.
     
  7. Mar 8, 2007 #6

    matt grime

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    And there is a case to be made for *not* using pi in real life. In calculations that require a number at the end to be used, one always approximates. It is just the nature of the beast. It makes sense, bizarrely, for there to be an officially recognised approximation for use when selling land, or pieces of wood. Though the standard might have to be different in different cases. I have heard this put forward as a reason for alleged historical attempts to legislate pi. Nothing to do with the bible, nothing to do with disbelief in mathematics (in fact it is almost the opposite), but ensure that when that timber merchant sold you something of a given circular area it was acceptably close to the other's bit of wood.
     
  8. Mar 8, 2007 #7
    :rofl: It was pretty convincing, and that's because, I think, such stupidity is bound to take place. :biggrin:
     
  9. Mar 8, 2007 #8

    Mech_Engineer

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    Man, I was about to start avoiding anything engineered in Alabama. As said before, I believed it because stupidity such as this abounds in todays legislation.

    Whew, I have to go sit down now... :uhh:
     
  10. Mar 9, 2007 #9

    Gib Z

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    O you serious, i read it in like 4 different places! Including in a Sydney Newspaper, but now i think of it, it was a long time, maybe on april fools day..dont know. My bad.

    The article says religious groups lobbby for pi=3 because the bible says so. Ahh, that doesn't do too well for the bible does it...
     
  11. Mar 9, 2007 #10

    HallsofIvy

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    I wonder if you notice that article was written by "April Holiday" and was, at least in the version I saw here:
    http://www.nmsr.org/alabama.htm
    as an "April Fool" joke?
     
  12. Mar 9, 2007 #11

    Gib Z

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    Yea halls, people have already pointed that out, my bad lol.

    Where ever the bible states pi=3, is it rock solid statement, or a deduction?
     
  13. Mar 9, 2007 #12
    Actually according to "The Joy of Pi", someone around 100 years ago lobbied the Indiana state government/whatever to have his 'proof' that pi=3.125 accepted and thus allow him to copyright pi, which he'd then generously allow the education system to use free of charge.

    It was passed around various commities and then actually voted through to the senate! It was defeated when someone pointed out that numbers can't be copyrighted (hence why Intel changed their CPU names to Pentium rather than 486). For a worrying length of time, it managed to pass through the hands of a lot of people who didn't think "Wait, isn't pi not 3.14....?"

    So yes, the US government can be very close to that stupid, especially Kansas ;)
    Kings 7.21 if I remember correctly. It describes a disk 30 cubits in circumference and 10 cubics in width. Even if they were working to the nearest cubit, it should habr been 31 cubits.

    /edit
    Just seen it's in the original post of this thread, Kings 7.23
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2007
  14. Mar 9, 2007 #13
    This sounds like a case of lazy journalism. Frequently journalists will take a quote from the internet without ever tracing the source.

    A classic I saw was when the satirical magazine Private Eye had a series of spoof interviews about celebrities and their favorite spoon. A month after I read about Rolf Harris and his spoon, the gossip magazine Heat quoted Rolf Harris as saying in an iinterview "I love my Spoon", I of course was one of the few people who knew where the quote actually came from.

    A similar story relates to somebody complaining about their high gas bill, to be told by the gas company that it may be linked to the gas used up in the explosion that destroyed his house. This has been quoted in various local papers each with a different town it occured in, and then was used as a quote on a BBC radio programme.

    Anyone interested in seeing how lazy journalists are should subscribe to Pop***** and then keep ab eye on tabaloid gossip columns over the next week or so, very revealing.

    EDIT: Ran foul of the autoediting there, replace with a female canine.
     
  15. Mar 9, 2007 #14

    HallsofIvy

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    Yeah, I'm always coming in late!

    There's quite a lot of detail on that in Underwood Dudley's book Mathematical Cranks. Actually, the work he was giving to the state "free of charge" did not prove or even state a specific value of pi but had results that implied several different values for pi.

    Actually, I believe the reference is to a large kettle rather than a disk.
     
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