Pi Day has San Francisco roots

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Pi Day Celebration at the Exploratorium in San Francisco (© Exploratorium)

A San Francisco original celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

It was back in 1988 that Exploratorium physicist Larry Shaw got a crazy idea. He wanted to celebrates his favorite irrational number, pi.

As any high school student has learned, pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.

Video: How to measure pi using a real pie
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Exploratorium scientist Julie Yu demonstrates how to measure pi using a string and real fruit pie.

The equation results in a number that begins with 3.14, but the result is actually infinite. Scientists have calculated up to 1.24 trillion digits of pi so far.

Thirty years ago, Shaw saw an opportunity to have some fun with the number, so he organized a circular walk with the public and staff. The event ended with a serving of pie.

The Exploratorium has made it an annual celebration. And it has caught on in a big way. In 2009, the House of Representatives declared March 14 as National Pi Day.

Shaw died last August, so he won't be at this year's event.

The Exploratorium will hold activities and lectures beginning at 10 a.m. and culminating with a pi procession at 1:59 p.m. and a serving of pie at 2:15 p.m.

More details on the event and the history of Pi Day can be found at the Exploratorium website.

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