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Science Holidays: Pi Day, Einstein, Equinoxes & The Poles Of Uranus

Topics: Holidays | Add A CommentBy admin | March 13, 2010

This time we forsake religious holidays for scientific ones, and end up talking in circles about Pi Day, Hole Theories, poles, and why Uranus won’t get up off its axis.

You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that Pi Day is coming ’round again on March 14th, but if you were, it would be easier to remember, because it would also be your birthday. It also helps that Pi Day falls on 3.14, because well, that’s Pi. At least the “Pi For Dummies” version. For the longer, but still not full-size version (only a million digits) go here. March seems to have an astronomical number of math and science related “holidays”; not only do we bend time itself the day after Einstein’s birthday with Daylight Savings Time (which is bad for your health, by the way), but the following week we have the Vernal Equinox (that’s “First Day of Spring” for you lay people) which marks the halfway point between the longest and shortest days of the year. And don’t forget, it was on March 13, 1781 that William Herschel’s assistant climbed up on her ladder to adjust the telescope and Herschel said “I can see UranusĀ  quite clearly tonight“. Bad astronomy jokes aside, Uranus is an odd planet. All the other planets keep their axes in line, spinning vertically like little tops. But at Uranus’ equinoxes, it points its pole straight at the Sun. Which probably has something to with why – in astrology – Uranus represents sudden and unexpected changes and breaking with convention. It may seem like I’m talking in circles here, but what else would you expect when touching on transcendental numbers and the birthday of a guy who struggled with a hole theory?