Happy Tau Day 2016! While the buzz about the Tau-Pi battle seems to have lost momentum, there are still Tau-Pi arguments going on around the globe today.
Our friend Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and homophone to pie, is considered by some mathematicians to be “wrong”. They say it should be replaced by Tau, which uses the ratio of the circumference to the radius instead. But 6.28 doesn’t sound delicious at all.
One argument the tauphiles miss is that the homophonic value of Pi sets a great stage for creating events, jokes, and activities that generate interest in math. When kids are interested in math, they will be more inclined to explore and enter STEM disciplines. As a country, we need to do a better job of inspiring our young people’s positive engagement in STEM activities. We need any edge that helps us demonstrate that math and science can be fun so that children in our communities – especially minorities and girls – will be empowered to pursue, and interested in, STEM fields.
A Pew Research Center report from 2012 shows that while there has been a slight trend of improvement of our youth’s science and math comprehension, we are still at a global disadvantage. We invest misplaced energy and resources to fund faith-biased programs, put bibles and other Christian paraphernalia in our public schools, and argue irrelevantly about evolution; if we could re-invest that zeal in the academic development of our K-12 individuals, we would see that slight trend of improvement become a more substantial demonstration of our youth’s positive intellectual potential. (Also see, National Science Board’s 2016 Science and Engineering Indicators )
So for those advocating for Tau, we get it and we are grateful for people in this world thinking about and promoting ways to advance mathematics. But don’t get so caught up in the math that you forget the impact Pi’s fun & puns hook can have on youth who might otherwise have gone through school with the disadvantage of believing that math is boring. (Oh, and also, Pi is just better.)
- Tau Day: What’s the big deal? (By Swami)
- Michael Hartle’s Tau Manifesto (Tau Day official page)
- TvPi comic collection
- XKCD explains Pi vs. Tau
- THE SMACKDOWN – video
- Scientific American article (2014)
- PBS Article: For the Love of Pi and the Tao of Tau (2014)
- CNN Tech article (2011)
- BBC Article (2011)