March 14th is Pi Day. Maybe that's why I'm seeing lots of hits on my website for people searching for information about π. You might be surprised that they'd come here. I'm no Eve Andersson; I'm no π expert; this web site doesn't have much information about π. But these people aren't coming here because they're searching for the value of π that most people use. These people are Googling for 3.1464466 . Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might know why these people end up on my site: a mathematical crank has mailed me his theories on how the true value of π is 3.1464466.
3.1464466 is really close to the true value of π. It's so close that if you were to look at a circle and estimate π, 3.1464466 would be a remarkably good "eyeball" guess. Unfortunately, some folks make that guess. Then they don't want to hear about it when you point out that they're a little off. (You think I'm kidding about that "eyeball" thing, but it's true. The guy who mails me stuff—his "proof" of π's true value was to draw some straight lines on a circle and say it was obvious that they were the same length as the circle's circumference.)
If someone tells you that the true value of π is 3.1464466, they probably also think that they have squared the circle. They might not know that phrase; after all, if their π researches had brought them to that phrase, they might have bumped into a proof of the impossibility of squaring the circle. That is, they would have found out that they messed up.
Anyhow, here's a link to my book report on The untold story of the THE TRUE VALUE OF PI.
Have fun on Pi Day, kids. Don't sweat the cranks. We can be glad they're enthusiastic, even if their aim's a little off.