Tuesday 21 August 2007

What a relief! The Sun has solved Pi!

Sun Exclusive! Sexy Cow!
Thank goodness for the Super Soaraway Sun ! Why on earth do I buy a copy of Britain's best-selling newspaper only once or twice a year?
If only the world's greatest scientists and mathematicians had bought the same issue that I did, they could all be sleeping soundly in their beds tonight.
For centuries, aeons in fact, mathematicians, engineers, mystics and artists alike have wrestled with that old conundrum: the relationship between a circle's diameter and its circumference.
Could you put that more simply, my son?
Well, The Sun does 'simple' better than anyone. on page 6, they ran a fifty question quiz, rather ingeniously called 'Feeling Brainy?'
Possibly looking for their more cerebral readers, the quiz was placed opposite the paper's Editorial Comment, (which, by the way, read exactly thus:
"Load of Bull?
The search for Ireland's most beautiful cow was unveiled yesterday.
They might look the same to some, but for some a sprightly bovine can be moo-tiful.
But a sexy cow? Pull the UDDER one.")
Tempted to see if I qualified as brainy for a Sun reader, I stormed in, until I reached question 8, where I have to admit, I became a bit stumped.
'How many times does the diameter of a circle fit into its circumference?'
All power to the question setter. He or she could so easily have just asked
"Imagine you've drawn a line from one side of a circle right across to the other side. Now, how many of those wee lines do you think will fit around the outside of the circle?
But they didn't, because they want to believe that their readers are not idiots.
I didn't want to be an idiot. I didn't want to want to come up with the wrong answer, and a part of me just hoped it would suffice to say Pi, or even the symbol (¼).
Just how clever did The Sun want me to be? After all, from the little I understand, (or to be honest, just learned from the internet), as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter in Euclidean genome, Pi is a mathematical constant and a transcendental and irrational number.
Also known as Archimedes' constant and Ludolph's number, its exact size has never been ascertained.
On the 20th November, 2005, a gentleman called Chao Lu became the world record holder for reciting decimal places of Pi, having memorised it to a truly unbelievable 67,890 digits.
In September 2002, Dr. Kanada's team at the University of Tokyo calculated Pi to 206,158,430,000 decimal places, and still didn't get an answer.
Foolish ignorant men. If only they'd had half a brain cell to rub together, they'd have gone down the shop, bought The Sun, some tea bags, milk and a packet of chocolate digestives, and whilst dunking their biccies in their mugs, they could have found out that they had been wasting their time.
'Cos there it was, in the answers, upside down on the same page.
That's how may times the diameter of a circle fits into its circumference. There is no need for decimal places. The Sun has released us from centuries of mathematical purgatory; delivered us from scientific torment and philosophical agony.
It's official. Pi = 3.
The Sun . We love It.
Actually, I'm being a little unfair to The Sun.
Now, that's a challenging concept!
Whilst that item about the cow was true, it did not run alone. Above it, the red top ran an editorial about the economic disparity enjoyed and suffered in unequal measure in our so-called Tiger Republic.
Running with figures recently released by the Central Statistics Office, the paper complains quite rightly that our society cannot be called 'fair' when the top ten percent of this country's earners bring home ¤2,233 each week after tax, while the lowest ten percent earn only ¤157.
What kind of boom is this, where the rich get richer and the poor become inexorably poorer?
Allow me to introduce you to the Thatcherite boom, just like the one Britain endured in the 80's.
Then, as now, small groups of people living within a tiny geographical area became immensely rich, while the rest of us were bombarded with propaganda about the economic miracle in which we were living.
Then, as Bertie and his PD charioteers do now,Thatcher encouraged the marriage of an unbridled belief in the beauty of the free market to a young and hungry population, greedy beyond all precedent.
Then, as now, all you end up with is the disgrace of a society we have today.
If you tell enough people how well off they are enough times, they will start to believe it themselves. They will go out and buy 46" HDTVs on their credit cards, and take on 100% mortgages, because they feel financially secure.
Sure, aren't we richer than we have ever been?
Watch and wait as the global corporate greed that encourages sub-prime mortgages begins to collapse, bringing us all down with it.
Before you can say 'Negative Equity', the two most dreaded words in a free market economy, the house you bought is worth less than you paid for it. Already I dread the start of house repossessions that I saw in mid-'80's England.
But more than that, I fear for those families (and don't forget, we're talking about 10% of the earning population here!) who earn only ¤158, and yet have to spend ¤217 each week to survive.
Before we become obsessed with interest rates, bricks and mortar, let's not forget our neighbours, who lie awake at night full of fear.
They might well be worried about their mortgages, but as their spending on simple groceries and utility bills sends them ¤3,000 into debt each year, they are, more than anything, worried about putting food into their childrens' mouths.
And there was me, thinking Ireland had left those dark days behind.
You might well laugh when I call myself a Socialist, but the trouble with Capitalism is that the philanthropic dream of a so-called Drip Drip Drip effect of wealth distribution never existed in the real world.
The rich became rich in the first place by hanging on to their money. The poor become poorer, and will stay poorer as long as we turn our heads, vote for the status quo, and sleep happily whilst not giving a damn.


1 comment:

Charlie Adley said...
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