Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy Pi Day!

Brian Joseph Johns
As you've probably already seen thanks to Google, today is Pi day! The most popular and perhaps the best known transcendental number. Today I'm going to talk a little bit about all things Pi on this wonderful Pi day.

So what is Pi?

Well, there's the Life Of Pi...

The movie Life Of Pi is based upon a book by the same name written by Yann Martel and is directed by Ang Lee.

Google's description of the film: After deciding to sell their zoo in India and move to Canada, Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with their sons and a few remaining animals. Tragedy strikes when a terrible storm sinks the ship, leaving the Patels' teenage son, Pi (Suraj Sharma), as the only human survivor. However, Pi is not alone; a fearsome Bengal tiger has also found refuge aboard the lifeboat. As days turn into weeks and weeks drag into months, Pi and the tiger must learn to trust each other if both are to survive.

To understand the connection between the story and the transcendental number you'll just have to read it or see it for yourself. I highly recommend the film if you haven't already seen it.

Then there's the fact that Apu Nahasapeemapetilon can recite Pi to forty thousand places and the fact that Homer loves Pi(e) as can be seen in this clip from The Simpsons thanks to tilthenightclosesin...

Pi is also sounds phonetically like the file extension for Python source files (.py), a popular language used by many coders.

Pipi (which is a name made up of two Pi back to back) can refer to:

Plebidonax deltoides, a small edible salt water clam...

Neterkheperre Meryptah called Pipi II, a High Priest of Ptah during the 21st Egyptian Dynasty...

Pipi, a transcription (ΠΙΠΙ) into Greek of the Tetragrammaton...

In Carl Sagan's book Contact (perhaps one of my favourite books and movies), the number Pi plays a very prominent role (that's spoiler free by the way in case you are thinking of reading it).

What do we know about the transcendental number Pi?

The number Pi represents the ratio of a perfect circle's circumference to its diameter.

That is, a circle with a radius of 10 units will give us a circumference of 62.83 rounded down to two decimal places.

If we take the circle's circumference and divide it by its diameter (diameter = 2 x radius) we should end up with Pi.

Hence Pi is a ratio related to any perfect circle corresponding to its circumference divided by its diameter.

radius = 10
diameter = radius x 2 = 20

Pi = circumference / diameter

Pi = 62.83 / 20

Pi = 3.1415

Pi's extensive history can be read about on Wikipedia.

Why is it so important?

What makes Pi so important is that it describes mathematically the means by which we can make and measure the perfection and accuracy of circular objects and their qualities.

Any device with moving parts such as gears and spindles rely upon knowledge of Pi. For instance being able to calculate the circumference of a part crafted on a lathe tells us how much ground it would cover over the course of one turn.

This is useful also if such a part is being used with a belt. Knowing the circumference of such a part also tells us in relation to the radius of the part how much torque force would be required to turn it and a load. In this sense, Pi is of utmost importance to our most fundamental machines.

Also it is used to check the perfection of lenses and mirrors for optical devices and telescopes whose accuracy depend upon the perfection of the viewing medium.

Knowing Pi also allows us to calculate the approximate circumference of the entire Earth, the distance between the surface of the Earth and the Sun. The distance to the Moon and a variety of other facts all without having to circumnavigate the Earth in order to calculate such information. In fact, you can calculate these things in place without having to travel more than a few meters just by using the shadows of the Sun and by knowing a little bit of trigonometry.

All of that is pretty powerful knowledge considering how important that knowledge is for creating Calendars which are essential for understanding the growing seasons for most crops. All for the small price of remembering a little bit of your grade school and high school homework. With that kind of knowledge you could manage the sustainable growth of a small civilization.

What is some other neat stuff about Pi?

There is literally all kinds of neat stuff to do with Pi on the internet. You could check out Wired Magazine's article 6 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Pi, an interactive playground in itself.

You could read about measuring the physical properties of a Photon, an interesting article by Jean Louis Van Belle which in essence only requires Pi to an accuracy of about 20 or 30 digits.

You could use's Pi Query page to search for number sequences within the first 200 million digits of Pi. Try your phone number for instance...

Hey! Pi Day Is Really Close To International Women's Day!

Yes it is and to celebrate you could watch this great video by Danica McKellar about Pi

You could check out pinned images on Pinterest of 61 best things to do on Pi Day...

Want to calculate Pi with your computer? y-cruncher is a Pi calculating program for Windows and Linux machines created by Alexander Yee.

So as you can see, there's much to do on Pi Day.

Here's an interesting International Women's Day trivia related to Pi Day. In case you don't recognize Danica McKellar, she played Winnie Cooper on the television series The Wonder Years. She's also a Mathematics teacher/writer and an advocate for education.

Speaking of education and International Women's Day and mathematics, here's another site I recently added to the Allies section of Shhhh! Digital called Tibees. She's a student in a Physics PhD program who shares interesting and practical information for any student considering a post high school education in Physics or seeking their Physics degree. A great YouTube site that I highly recommend.

Have a great Pi Day!

Brian Joseph Johns

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Happy International Women's Day

On behalf of A Lady's Prerogative, The Butterfly Dragon and Shhhh! Digital Media, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy International Women's Day.

In those wishes I'd like to include the people of every gender who contribute to furthering gender equality especially where it affects Women's Rights.

I'd go so far as to consider this a daily thing, though this day and upcoming weekend are special in that regard. Making a bit more effort for this cause.

If you're interested in watching something about the history of Women's Rights and its progress throughout society, I'd highly suggest that you watch: Suffragettes Forever: Women And Power which is available on TVO, a local public television station that offers great documentary and educational programming.

If you're interested in finding some great reading authored by Women, then you should head right over to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation where you'll find: International Women's Day: 18 Canadian women writers to read in 2018.

Women's Day is an international day in recognition of Women in society of all ages and cultures. You'll find a great article with regard to this at the United Nations News.

I am also happy to announce that A Lady's Prerogative: Bella's Tarot Reading is now finished (first draft) for those of you who'd like to close the book on that story.

Secondly, The Butterfly Dragon: What Different Eyes See has also progressed quite a bit since I last posted any notice of update.

Over the course of this weekend I'll be working on things mostly related to International Women's Day and issues surrounding Women, the results of which I'll share via social media where applicable at some point in the near future.

One last thing that I should mention is that there are some people that believe that when you do anything of a good nature, that you are doing it to shed guilt for something bad that you did. I don't live by any such eidos and nothing that I do here is done with the intent of cleansing myself of past grievances and misgivings. I'd recommend that you don't read anything into it because there's no hidden agenda here.

Thank you very much to my readers and to every Women of every age and culture, I hope that your life opportunities continue to grow in a positive way.

Brian Joseph Johns

Monday, March 5, 2018

A Great Oscars Show

Brian Joseph Johns
Being a big fan of film (but of late, seldom going out to theaters but rather renting movies at home), I managed to catch the Academy Awards last night. I usually watch them every year and this year was no different.

It was a great show, perhaps one of the best Oscar shows I've seen in a long time with a lot of boundaries being broken where they should be and boundaries going up where they need to be. Especially with regard to Women's Rights (especially where it involves sexual assault), Cultural, Gender and Age Diversity as well as Gender and Cultural Equality.

Of course the progress in these areas will bring the next set of challenges but that's the very nature of progress itself. Overcome one set of issues so that progress matches that of other areas that might change the very nature of our sustainability, morality, our rights and opportunity without hindering the very nature of the tension and (sometimes) release inherent in nearly all art and without tying the hands of the artists themselves that tell stories that challenge us step beyond the comfort of our set ways.

The show didn't linger on those topics but rather treated them all professionally and concisely, allowing for their expression to an attentive audience. After all, this is about recognizing artists for their achievements in the medium of film making and perhaps the great responsibility that comes with being at the helm of such a medium itself whether you're a performer in front of the cameras or one of the multitude of people working to realize such productions from behind the cameras.

I personally believe that the pressure and responsibility that is inherent with being in the spotlight will and already has changed in nature as a result of the digital revolution and digital convergence. After all, in the age of social media stars, people from all walks of life are getting their chance to experience what that kind of pressure is like and giving us a different kind of respect for these artists who've long been subject to it.

At the same time, the subjects of the art itself are people. Both real and created characters of mythical proportions, where characters from all walks of life especially those with which we can relate form the narrative of their own stories. The waitress working at a local diner. The supportive single mother raising her daughter the best she can. An adolescent man exploring the nature of his own being and sexual orientation. A research scientist and a deaf custodian empathize with the non-human subject of an experiment whose life is captivity. A super powered mutant with exceptional healing powers deals with his diminishing abilities resulting from age, all while protecting a young girl from her own savage nature and the people who pursue them. The super powered are really just extensions of the real lives of those in society who choose to rise above the status quot and protect that for which they believe and stand. The "ordinary" every day working Mom becomes a hero of epic proportions without requiring the tights or even super powers. That Police Officer who refuses to give up on an investigation, while behind the scenes some of the crime's victims risk all to do their own parallel investigating giving eyes and ears to the law in ways it might not otherwise have.

As always it was about the arts themselves and the most important component of the arts, the audience. I won't give away any details about who was nominated and who won, so that those of you who missed it can spend the rest of the week spoiler dodging until you have a chance to see them.

I have a feeling that as things progress, that more and more people will feel less offended and defensive about social change especially when it can happen without vilifying anyone but rather challenge our views in open debate. When confronted with change at first, most people (myself included) tend to take it personally or even internalize it in some way as if it is an affront to themselves specifically rather than an overall philosophy. As we become comfortable with what we stand for and what we believe is right and worthy of our protection, I believe that we learn to rise above the very nature of conflict itself in a constructive rather than destructive manner.

In one last topic I'd like to risk broaching, I was glad to see representation on the carpet last night from my own home country of Canada. I don't believe that in expressing that happiness that I (or anyone for that matter) is implying or forcing a show of bias on the part of Hollywood or even Americans as a whole for Canada any more than it would be bias for Mexico.

Consider when you have a party. If you really want to throw a good party and for your party to be a success, you invite your immediate neighbours and I don't believe that itself is unfair bias at all. After all you can look at it like, good fences make good neighbours, or good neighbours make good fences.

I'm not one to put my money where my mouth is on this personally, but I do regard the United States Of America as the neighbour I'd love, if I'm required to "love thy neighbour" over my immediate residential neighbours (with all due respect). I guess by expressing my gratitude for seeing Canada's presence on the carpet, I was expressing gratitude much like anyone might if they were invited to their immediate neighbour's party. Even if we went home early or stayed until the sun rose the next day. It was great to feel like we were welcome and were in some small way a part of it. I would certainly say the same thing with regard to their immediate neighbour to the south, Mexico as well.

Brian Joseph Johns