Pi is one of the most fascinating numbers ever discovered, so famous that it has its own special day to celebrate. Every year Pi Day falls on the 14th March and this amazing constant is celebrated all over the globe. Pi is much more than a mathematical curiosity – Pi is actually fantastically useful and there are lots of jobs which use Pi in the real world. Here are just 10 of them to give you a taste of why Pi is not just interesting, it is also useful!
1. Space Scientist
Space scientists and engineers use Pi to put spacecraft into orbit. They also use Pi in more unexpected ways such as calculating the density of an asteroid by measuring the circumference and mass.
The Normal Distribution is undoubtedly the most important distribution in statistics and yes, you guessed it, Pi is right there at the core! The familiar bell shaped curve crops up everywhere and describes real world situations such as the distribution of shoe sizes or foot length. The probability density function of the Standard Normal Distribution contains Pi:
3. Video Games Programmer
Need to rotate your spaceship in your virtual world? Most programming languages use radians rather than degrees. Radians are first introduced in A Level maths and 360 degrees is equal to radians.
4. Aeronautical Engineer
If something moves in a circle like a jet engine, then it won’t be long before you need the equations of Circular Motion using Pi.
5. Garden designer
Looking to create a round flowerbed, or a circular patio? Need to work out how much edging material or gravel you will need? The circumference of the circle and the area of the circle will be useful.
6. Product Engineer
Want to make something round in a factory? From tin cans to ball bearings, there are plenty of products which are round. A product engineer works in manufacturing to make production possible and they need to use Pi to get their calculations correct.
7. Artist or sculptor
Some artists and sculptors like to focus on using geometrical forms in their work. Sculptors may use Pi when they are making works of art based on the circle, as this allows them to estimate the volume of material needed. Having a deep understanding of geometry can be a big advantage for an artist. Would you use Pi if you wanted to create a sculpture like this?
Sculpture by Dame Barbara Hepworth
8. Mechanical or Electrical Engineer working in Power Generation
Electric generators use a rotating coil inside an electric field – electrical and mechanical engineers use Pi to get things right.
9. Structural Engineer
A structural engineer uses formulae to keep their buildings safe. One example using Pi is Euler’s critical load formula which predicts when a column in a building is going to buckle.
Architects need to have a good understanding of geometry to produce curved surfaces. Some architects take it one step further and base their whole building on mathematical forms such as in the case of the Sage Music Centre in Gateshead which is made up of 27 pieces of a torus, a curved doughnut shape which is based on the circle.