larry shaw

Casey Miner

The basic definition of the number pi is that it’s doesn’t have an exact value – it’s an infinite calculation. But it is possible to know the exact number of people required to sing a fully orchestrated song about it – sixteen.

I visited San Francisco’s Exploratorium a few days before this year’s Pi Day celebration, to watch a rehearsal of the 16-person band in question. They’re called Buffon’s Needle, a reference to an 18th Century French mathematician who approximated the value of pi by throwing pine needles on the ground.