On Common Knowledge of Pi

Eric Ihli
Funding for this study was provided by Ezmonic.


Pi is a constant that not only surrounds us but continues to surprise us with unexpected appearances. For all of Pi's ubiquitousness, how much does the average person really know about it? This study aims to shed light on whether today's common knowledge of Pi is sufficient for optimal progress in today's society.


According to NASA, 15 digits of pi has been sufficient for interplanetary navigation. But, at least 39 digits are needed to calculate the circumference of the universe. [NASA16] Given the current laws of physics, we propose 39 digits as a lower bound for what common knowledge should be.


To determine whether common knowledge has already exceeded this lower bound or whether we as a society need better numeromemorilogical tools to aid retention of Pi's digits, this study asks a random sampling of the set of the universal human population within immediate vocal range of the author of this study the following question: How many digits of Pi does the average person know from memory?


After posing this question to our random sampling (N=1), we conclude that the average person thinks that the average person remembers Pi to only 2 decimal places: 3.14.


This study only considers a single constant, Pi. But today's physics regularly makes use of several other constants [BLACK11], the common knowledge of which we leave for further studies.

The conclusion is clear.

Society is in desperate need for better tooling to aid with the human brain's retention of large numbers.

[NASA16] https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/news/2016/3/16/how-many-decimals-of-pi-do-we-really-need/ How Many Decimals of Pi Do We Really Need?

[BLACK11] http://www.math.ucr.edu/home/baez/constants_table.pdf

Show Comments