###
How much for a digit of PI?

Scottish poet Brian McCabe writes playfully of numbers. In the following poem he imagines an auction of the digits of *π*.
** Three Point One Four One Five Nine Two **
** Six Five Three Five Eight Nine Seven Nine**
** Three Two Three Eight Four Six Two Six**
** Four Three Three Eight Three Two**
** Seven Nine Five Zero Two Eight** by Brian McCabe
* Ludolf van Ceulen 1540 - 1610*
The final item is the gravestone
of Ludolf van Ceulen of Leyden,
seventeenth-century mathematician.
He spent most of his life
calculating the value of *pi*
by the Archimedes method
to the first . . . ah, thirty-five digits.
They are engraved on the stone
beside the date of his death: 1610.
A decade later his painstaking work
was obsolete. This is his stone.
May we start the bidding at three?
We have it from the gentleman
in the hat from the University of Texas.
Three thousand one hundred dollars
from the bidder on line from Leyden.
From the man in the hat from Texas
we have three thousand one hundred
and forty dollars. From Leyden
we have one hundred and forty-one.
Three thousand one hundred and
forty-one dollars and *fifty* cents
from the man in the hat from Texas.
From Leyden we have fifty-*nine* cents.
Any more bids? Sold to the bidder
who is on line from Leyden! So:
the tombstone of Ludolf van Ceulen
is returned to the place of his death
for three thousand one hundred and
forty-one dollars and fifty-nine cents.
Or the value of *pi *to the sixth digit.
Cheap at the price, considering.
McCabe's poem is found in his collection *Zero* (Polygon, 2009). Computation of *π* continues in 2011 as a worldwide contest; a recent record was set with more than 5 trillion digits.
**Previous blog postings on ***π* **may be found at these links: **__in ____2011__, Mar 15 Remembering Pi-day, a day late; **in 2010** : Aug 23 The Irrational Sonnet -- an Oulipian form,

Sept 2 Rhymes help to remember the digits of Pi, Sept 6 More of Pi in Poetry.

## No comments:

## Post a Comment