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Re: Cakes are round, Pie are square

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Kate keep the jokes coming.  Any engineer that cannot appreciate a good
joke needs to pull their nose out of their books and stop being so
"engineer nerd like."  Keep the jokes coming and let the others

Kathleen A. O'Brien wrote:
> ==================================================================
> HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- NASA engineers and mathematicians in this
> high-tech city are stunned and infuriated after the Alabama state
> legislature narrowly passed a law yesterday redefining pi, a
> mathematical constant used in the aerospace industry.  The bill to
> change the value of pi to exactly three 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 pi," said Marshall Bergman, a manager at the
> Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.  According to Bergman, pi
> 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 pi is a universal constant, and cannot arbitrarily be
> changed by lawmakers.  Johanson explained that pi 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, pi is precisely 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. "Pi is merely an artifact of Euclidean geometry."  Humbleys
> is working on a theory which he says will prove that pi 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 pi 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 circumference to diameter.
> "Anyone with a compass, flexible ruler, and globe can see for
> themselves," suggests Humbleys, "its not exactly rocket science."
> Roger Learned, a Solomon Society member who was in Montgomery to
> support the bill, agrees.  He said that pi 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 pi
> 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 pi 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 pi 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 redefine the value of pi.  A
> legislator in the state of Indiana unsuccessfully attempted to
> have that state set the value of pi to three.  According to Dietz,
> the lawmaker was exasperated by the calculations of a mathematician
> who carried pi 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 pi between traditional
> values supporters and the technical elite.  Solomon Society member
> Lawson agrees. "We just want to return pi to its traditional
> value," he said, "which, according to the Bible, is three."
> ------