We all know Pi, and at the very least, we know it to the first two decimals, 3.14. But beyond that, pi can be a tough number to comprehend. People in the math community will pride themselves on how many decimals of pi they can remember.

But in Indiana, the math community nearly made it easier (sort of), and legislation was nearly passed to change Pi from the irrational number it is, to something a little more digestible, and easier to comprehend.

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What is Pi

The short version is, "Pi" is a mathematical constant, and the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. But, it is an irrational number, which means that it is essentially never-ending.

Many schools, like my own, would celebrate "Pi Day" in school on March 14, since it appears on the calendar as "3/14." Even more exact, the precise TIME for Pie Day is at 1:59 in the morning, since the first give decimals of Pi equate to 3.14159.

But there was a law that nearly passed in the early days of Indiana that would have potentially moved Pi Day... to March 2nd.

Indiana Nearly Legally Changed Pi

Bill No. 246 was introduced into the Indiana General Assembly in 1897 by amateur (that's a key word) mathematician Edwin J. Goodwin. He claimed to have solved "three geometrical problems which puzzled the brains of mathematicians since the erection of the pyramids of Egypt."

The bill was introduced as...

"A bill for an act introducing a new mathematical truth..."

Essentially, he believed he had solved "Squaring the Circle," and constructed a square equal in area to a given circle. Goodwin developed the model, and actually copyrighted his solutions in seven countries, and proposed a measure that was successfully accepted by the Indiana House of Representatives.

But the Senate seemed a bit smarter, and caught on to two things:1. A German mathematician Ferdinand Lindemann had already proven that squaring the circle was literally impossible in 1882. And 2. The REST of the language in the bill's introduction.

"... and offered as a contribution to education to be used only by the State of Indiana free of cost by paying any royalties whatever on the same, provided it is accepted and adopted by the official action of the Legislature of 1897."

Basically, he had an unproven theory that he copyrighted, and tried to lobby the state of Indiana to use as fact. And since it was copyrighted, any use of his formula would net him a bunch of money.

The bill ultimately failed, and Senators even said they laughed and ridiculed the bill for more than a half hour before they finally laid down the hammer and killed the bill.

But the sad truth here is, the House still accepted it.

Leave it to politicians to be influenced by a lobbyist to change the law when proof of the claim had already been proven more than a decade before.

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