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Celebrating Albert Einstein’s Birthday & World Pi Day, 14 March 2020

Albert Einstein's Birthday & World Pi Day

What is common between Albert Einstein and Pi (π)?

Well, 14th March marks the birthday of Albert Einstein and is also celebrated as Pi (π) Day across the world. This day is important for STEM and the future waiting to be explored by young minds.

An Overview of Einstein’s Life

When you hear the word genius, Albert Einstein immediately comes to your mind and for good reason. He was one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century.
He was born on 14th March 1879 into a Jewish family in Ulm, Germany. Einstein dropped out of secondary school as he struggled with the pedagogical style at Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich. Despite his speech challenges, he completed his education in Switzerland. He achieved his doctorate degree in 1905 at the age of 26. In the same year, he published five revolutionary scientific papers. The first one earned him his doctorate and the other four helped us see the universe in a different light.

Einstein developed a passion for classical music and played the violin until a ripe old age. He passed away on 18th April 1955 from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. During the autopsy, Einstein’s brain was stolen by Dr. Thomas Harvey in the hope of unlocking the secrets of this genius. Within hours Einstein was cremated without the extracted organs.

What were Einstein’s most significant discoveries and inventions?

The great thinker and renowned physicist changed the face of modern science. His major contributions were:

Theory of Special Relativity (1905): This theory explains how space and time are linked for objects that are moving at a consistent speed in a straight line. Also, time and motion is relative to their observers, as long as the speed of light remains constant and natural laws are the same throughout the universe. The theory of special relativity has formed the basis of modern physics. One of the famous equations of this theory is E=mc^2, here c is the speed of light and is constant, E is energy and m is mass.

Brownian motion (1905): Einstein’s observation of the zigzag movement of particles in suspension helped to prove the existence of atoms and molecules. This discovery has been fundamental to almost every branch of science today.

Quantum Theory of Light (1905): Einstein’s quantum theory of light proposed that light is composed of small packets of energy called photons that have wave-like properties. In this theory, he also explained the emission of electrons from some metals when they are struck by light and called it the photoelectric effect. Einstein received the Nobel Prize in physics mainly for this discovery.

Theory of General Relativity (1915): General relativity throws light on the fact that space and time are actually different characteristics of the same thing–space-time–and that space-time is curved. How much is the curved space-time at any point in the universe will depend on how much gravitational force is present in that area. In addition to twisting space-time, gravity is also capable of bending light, radio waves and several other things. This theory is complex, comprehensive and covered greater part of the universe.

Einstein Refrigerator (1926): Einstein co-invented this refrigerator with Leo Szilard who was one of his physics students at Zurich University. The concern of poisoning from toxic gas leaks from mechanical compressors motivated Einstein to invent a refrigerator using the green technology. The invention was patented in 1930 and licensed to various companies including Electrolux.

Albert Einstein quote

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.”

What is Pi Day?

Pi Day celebrates the mathematical constant π (pi), 3.14159… Founded by physicist Larry Shaw in 1988 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, Pi (π) Day has become an international holiday, celebrated all around the world. The numbers in the date (3/14) match the first three digits of the mathematical constant pi (π).

What is Pi?

Pi (π) is the ratio between the circumference of a circle (C) and its diameter (d) i.e. π = C/d

This stands true for circles of all sizes. Pi is special because it’s an infinite number meaning the digits after the decimal point never end. The ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes is most commonly credited with being the first to accurately calculate the estimated value of pi.

How to celebrate Pi Day?

Generally, Pi Day is celebrated by eating and throwing pies and discussing the significance of the never ending number. But to make it a fun filled event the following activities can be included:

·         Have a contest where the contestants can recite the most digits of the constant. And the winner takes home a prize.

·         Have a fancy dress competition with a pi theme.

·         Eat foods that are circular in shape as well as those that begin with the letters pi, like pizza, pineapples, pickles, pistachios, etc.

·         Have a spelling competition for words beginning with pi.

·         Have a pie baking competition.

·         Celebrate Albert Einstein’s birthday with a quiz.

·         Write pi poems.

·         Plan a pi day run.

·         Have a pi day scavenger hunt.

·         Form a human pi chain.

·         Compete in a pi inspired glass painting.

Fun Fact about Pi Day: Pi Day is celebrated around the world on March 14 or 3.14 and officially begins at 1:59 pm. On combining the date and time you get 3.14159, the approximate value of pi.