"Probably no symbol in mathematics has evoked as much mystery, romanticism, misconception and human interest as the number pi (π)."
--William L. Schaaf, Nature and History of Pi
The Joy Of Pi is a flashily designed, thin little book by a man named David Blatner. It is written in a very cheerful manner and includes an assortment of factoids about the historic nature and the mysterious aura of the number pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter (including a segment from the O. J. Simpson trial). It tells us of man's fascination with it's story, from Archimedes to Leonardo da Vinci to the cute freaks and pi fanatics our our time.
It is not a book which need be read from cover-to-cover, you can simply open it to any random page and bask in the glory (or rather, the joy) of pi. It is what I fondly refer to as a 'flippy book'. There are sidebars which recount fascinating pi trivia; mnemonic devices teach how to memorise pi to many hundreds of digits (or more, if you're so inclined); pi-inspired cartoons, poems, limericks, and jokes offer delightfully "square" pi humor. There are some equations, but those who don't like equations can appreciate them like beautiful illustrations. The first million digits of pi are reproduced in a stunning and vanishingly small type size and running across virtually every page.
: I thought the pi freaks were crazy but then I read about the 'circle-squarers
', or 'geometric cyclometers
', who continue to insist that generations of mathematician
s and scientists have been engaged in some sort of sinister, sub-masonic conspiracy to conceal the real value of pi.