Wednesday, 4 March 2009

A Month of Maths

It must be the geekiest month of the year. March plays host to three days dedicated to mathematics.

At this very moment, parties are raging around the world in celebration of Square Root Day - 03/03/09 (3 being the square root of 9). Square Root Day only occurs 9 times a century - the last time was 02/02/04 and the next time will be 04/04/16. As it's 7 years till the next one, make sure you celebrate hard! There is even a facebook group you can join to connect with fellow square-root fans.

And maths fans are likely to keep their parties going, as the following day, March 4th, is World Maths Day. World Maths Day takes place each year on the first Wednesday in March and is one of the world’s largest educational events. Its aim is to lift numeracy standards and is free of charge for both schools and students. Check out the World Maths Day website for ways to get involved.

Maths fans then get a few days rest before starting up the celebrations again for Pi Day. Pi Day is observed on March 14th (03/14 in the American date format), as π is roughly equal to 3.14. Pi Minute is celebrated on March 14 at 1:59 am and Pi Second at March 14 at 1:59:26 am (π to seven decimal places is 3.1415926) .

So, before you complain to the police about the loud music coming from your neighbour's place after midnight this month, take a moment to consider that it's probably from a maths party - let them have their fun. We mathematicians don't get invited to many parties...


  1. and this on the back of 1234567890 day !

  2. That's right! 1234567890 day was February 13, 2009 at exactly 23:31:30 (UTC). This is when Unix time was equal to '1234567890' - this is the number of seconds elapsed since midnight January 1, 1970 (UTC), not counting leap seconds. Now if ever there was day for geeks, that was it!

  3. I didn't realise that they skipped leap seconds, those bastards.

    Would this have made the actual 1234567890 day February 23rd, 2009? Cause that's also my Sisters birthday.. and she's never used UNIX.

  4. Ha! No I think it includes leap years - it's only leap seconds.

    Leap seconds occur as we now measure time using atomic clocks, and not the position of the Sun or the Earth's rotation etc.

    So... the length of a day at the moment is about 0.002 seconds longer than it was between 1750 and 1892 when they defined how long a second was. To keep time as determined by atomic clocks in sync with solar time, leap seconds are added every now and then. Solar time changes due to unpredictable factors such as the motion of mass within Earth.

    But interestingly, leap seconds are controversial. There is a motion to replace them with leap hours. There you go....

  5. Some jurisdictions count more leap seconds than others.
    But the leap hour proposal is dead, and really always was dead.

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