“Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, and this is just the beginning; it keeps on going, forever, without ever repeating. Which means that contained within this string of decimals, is every single other number. Your birthdate, combination to your locker, your social security number, it’s all in there, somewhere. And if you convert these decimals into letters, you would have every word that ever existed in every possible combination; the first syllable you spoke as a baby, the name of your latest crush, your entire life story from beginning to end, everything we ever say or do; all of the world’s infinite possibilities rest within this one simple circle. Now what you do with that information; what it’s good for, well that would be up to you” – Person of Interest
Pi is easily one of the most popular numbers in mathematics. Most numbers used in everyday life can be categorized as rational numbers, which means they can be written as a simple fraction or decimal. Pi is an irrational number, a number that is non-repeating and non-terminating. Pi is often given the most praise for this property, but it holds true for any irrational number and there are infinite amounts of irrational numbers. In fact, its been proven that between every two rational numbers is an irrational one.
Irrational numbers have random digits that stretch on towards infinity. This fact is a cause for wonder. While all of pi’s digits are not known, mathematicians have used an impressive amount of computing power to determine trillions of digits. Within the infinite digits any other number can be found. For example, if you look for the number 37 it is first found at the 46th digit of pi. This leads to more startling ideas, such as that your birthday could be found inside pi at some point. My birthday happens to be found at the 128,993,362nd digit of pi. This is not the only time it appears as well, it is just the first time. As the quote suggests, your phone number, Social Security number, locker combination, bank account number, license plate number, etc can all be found in pi between 3.14 and infinity.
If a code was designed to translate the digits into letters, then it follows that any combination of letters can be found inside of pi as well. The most basic method of coding would be to assign A – 01, B – 02, C – 03, and so on, but there is no reason why it has to be done in this order (you could assign A – 19, B – 04, C – 23…). Now it is possible to look for combinations of letters inside of pi, such as your initials, your name, your street address, your first words, your to do list, and this very sentence.
One of my favorite videos elaborating on this concept is Vihart’s Are Shakespeare’s Plays Encoded within Pi? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXoh6vi6J5U). The answer was inconclusive, because pi may not be a normal number, but it is still entertaining to consider the possibility (and yes, the Persons of Interest quote may be a little too optimistic about what can be found inside of pi). This video also shows that an infinite many different versions of the letters could lead to surprising new outcomes – even a version where Romeo and Juliet that live happily ever after.
By now you may be wondering about where your own name appears inside of pi. There are a few websites where you can search the digits to find it or anything that you would like. The Pi Search Page is my personal favorite ( http://www.angio.net/pi/piquery ), because it searches through the first 200 million digits, and reveals some of the mathematics at work. This website boasts that 86% of birthdays can be found within these numbers, and shows the probabilities of finding certain combinations based on the length. As someone with a 12 digit last name, it is exceeding unlikely to find it in the first 200 million. However, anything under 7 digits is almost certainly within the first 100 million digits and is searchable. Happy searching!