Pies Are Round…Cakes Are Square!

So, it’s Pi Day…you math aficionados (read: geeks, and yes, I include myself among you) know what I’m talking about. For everyone else, today is March 14th, or 3/14, or 3.14, which is the mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi is commonly rounded off to nearest hundredth, although, as an irrational number, its decimal representation never ends, and never repeats. Over the centuries, computing Pi to a higher number of digits has been the fascination and passion of the prominent mathematicians of the day. In the 16th Century, Ludolph van Ceulen devoted the greater part of his life to calculating Pi to 35 decimal digits. He was so proud of his accomplishment that he had the digits engraved on his tombstone.

In the 21st Century, mathematicians have used computer programs to calculate Pi to mind-boggling accuracy: the current record stands at 5 trillion decimal digits. I’m not sure of who needs it to be that accurate, or what they’d use it for, but it reminded me of a funny story I heard from a friend’s father.

My friend Bill’s dad worked as an engineer for an aircraft engine manufacturer, and was involved with the first computer aided drafting program that they implemented. A fabricator came to him one day, and asked him how accurately he could plot the dimensions for an irregularly-shaped piece they needed to make out of sheet metal. He said he could easily get it to 0.001” accuracy, so he and the fabricator worked together to produce the drawing. When it came time to cut out the part, the fabricator proudly escorted my friend’s dad down to the shop floor, where he saw his drawing – with dimensions reported to the nearest thousandth of an inch – next to the piece of sheet metal, which they had laid out the dimensions on…using a tape measure and chalk. Then, they cut the part out. By hand. With an acetylene torch.

Perhaps since Pi Day is near the beginning of springtime in North America, the Application Engineers at EXAIR could also proclaim it the Official Start Date of Cabinet Cooler Season. If you have an electrical enclosure that requires cooling, we can help. If it’s existing equipment, we just need a few key dimensions and temperatures. If it’s a new application, we can work with any data you can provide. We won’t be calculating to the thousandth of anything, but we’ll get you the appropriately sized system for your enclosure.  To do this, we’ll be using algebra and geometry, but, unfortunately, no ∏.  Nor will we be applying trigonometry, but here’s a little something that I’m sure that true participants in Pi Day celebrations will appreciate:

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
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Web: http://www.exair.com
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