Pi Day and Writing Rhythm!

No, those two don’t have anything to do with one another except that they are both on my mind.  However, I’m going to talk about them in reverse order, because I want to spend more time on the former than the latter.

First, I came across a really good blog post on finding your writing rhythm.  More generally, it’s about settling into to being a writer and figuring out what works for you.  It’s an awesome read, and it makes a lot of really good points.

For one, it says to call yourself a writer.  It’s something to get you in the right mindset, and to stop looking for validation elsewhere (because there is no grand ceremony in which the Established Writing Elite comes along and dubs you a writer).  This is something I agree with.

It also highlights the point that there is no one way to write.  Different authors may have things that work for them, but the important thing is to explore and see what works for you.  Reading blog posts about writing, taking workshops, and talking to authors can be helpful, but it should be to give idea, not proscribe the One True Way.

So, worth a read.

The other thing on my mind today is pi.  You know, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter?  3.14159… ?  Yes, it is Pi Day (3/14), and I’m scheduling this post for 1:59 pm Central Time, for extra appropriateness.  But I believe that pi is wrong.

Note that I don’t mean that pi isn’t 3.14159…, just that it isn’t the most logical choice for a circle constant.  Note that this idea is in no way original to me, and for a full explanation, read The Tau Manifesto.  I’m just saying why this makes sense to me.

Tau is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its radius.  It is equal to (but not defined as) 2π.  That’s the short of it.

There are a lot of arguments here.  A lot of equations look rather pretty with tau instead of pi.  2π appears rather frequently where π does, and that’s just τ.  Most equations that look nice using π can be rearranged to look nice using τ, or show the geometrical relations more straightforwardly.

Which is all nice, but not what I care about.  The end forms of equations are not the driving factor to me.  I care a lot more about the basic definitions, and that those make the most sense that they could.  And fundamentally, π does not make sense.

The problem is that a circle is defined by its radius, not its diameter.  A circle is the locus of points equidistant from a single point, and the distance away they are is the radius.  So why would the circle constant be defined in terms of the diameter?

There is an important difference in what it means, too, when talking in terms of rotation and angles (which π and τ get used for a LOT).  π is a half rotation; τ is a full rotation.  Why have a constant be defined in terms of a half of something else (a rotation, in this case)?  It makes learning radian angles harder and less intuitive, and that is the foundation from which trigonometry and calculus begins (you end up just memorizing them, or learning to account for the factor of 2 – but I say you don’t need to).

That’s really it for me.  There are more good arguments (seriously, read The Tau Manifesto), but that’s the basis of it for me.  It’s a more natural definition, although it goes against the years of work we’ve been doing with math (I think there is a very natural parallel here to Pluto’s planethood status).

Now, I don’t work with trig very often, and don’t really write papers…ever.  So my opinion here doesn’t mean much.  If I ever do make something that needs the circle constant, though (like my trebuchet program), you can better believe I’ll use tau, if only to show myself how clean it makes things.

This entry was posted in Deep Thoughts, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *