# The History of Pi

A little known verse in the bible reads “And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other; it was round all about, and his height was five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it about(I Kings 7, 23).” This passage from the bible demonstrates the ancient nature of the irrational number pi. Pi in fact is mentioned in a number of verses throughout the bible. In II Chronicles 4,2, in the passage describing the building of the great temple of Solomon which was built around 950BC, pi is given as equal to three. This value is not very accurate at all and should not even be considered accurate for it’s time, however it should be noted that precision was not needed for the task that was being performed and we should let the general concept of pi that the biblical characters posses impress us. Present knowledge suggests that the concept of pi first developed in 2000 BC in two separate cultures. The Babylonians used pi at a value of 25/8 while an entirely different culture, the ancient Egyptians used pi at a value of 256/81. While the biblical calculation of pi=3 most likely came from crude measurement, there is strong reason to believe, because of the relative accuracy of the values, that the Babylonians and Egyptians found pi by means of mathematical equations. In the Egyptian Rhind Papyrus, which is dated around 1650 BC, there is strong evidence supporting that the Egyptians used 4(8/9) 2 =3.16 for their value of pi. At that point in history, and for the majority of modern history, pi was not seen as an irrational number as it is today. The next culture that investigated pi was the ancient Greeks. Starting in 434 BC Greeks were unraveling the mysteries of pi. The mathematician Anaxagoras made an unsuccessful attempt at finding pi, which he called squaring the circle and in 414 BC, 20 years after Anaxagoras failed in his attempt to square the circle, Aristophanes refers to the work of Anaxagoras in his comedy “The Birds”. It took over 100 years for the Greeks to finally find a value for pi. In 240 BC Archimedes of Syracuse showed that 223/71<pi<22/7. Archimedes knew,
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