My failed attempt at reciting 314 digits of Pi on Pi Day
I’ve always been fascinated by the mystery of Pi, which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter regardless of its size. Pi is infinite, irrational, constant, and rivers bend to it. In a word, Pi is sexy.
Last year I decided to challenge myself to memorize 100 digits, which came relatively easy. This year I attempted 314 and crushed it earlier in the day but later in the afternoon I caved with the social pressure of video, not to mention a glass of champagne with lunch (lame excuse but you can verify with Amy).
Friends often ask how I’m able to retain and recall hundreds of digits by rote. It’s hard to explain my method but it involves storytelling and number shape memory. I project a story of my life’s experiences on to long strings of numbers then test myself by writing the numbers before speaking them aloud. I can memorize a sequence of 30 numbers in roughly 15 minutes but like a solar panel I have trouble storing volume. Once I get past 100 digits retention is more difficult. Long term storage is only possible when I repeat the numbers in my head like a mantra.
Pi has become my form of meditation. It helps me sleep and it completely quiets all thoughts in my brain whenever I choose to cycle through it. Rattling off the digits in my brain also never fails to sprout wow-face emojis in my social feed.
Don’t be too impressed though. The World Record holder can recite past 70,000 digits. Maybe I’ll give that a shot next year … but in the morning.