Even way back in the 20th century B.C., the Egyptians wondered how to calculate how much space was contained within a circle. So did the Babylonians, the Chinese, the Indians, and the Greeks.
In 250 B.C. no one had developed the decimal system yet, but the Greek mathematician Archimedes figured out that the distance around a circle divided by the distance across is the fraction 22/7 (approximately).
So, how does the symbol you see to the left fit in? And where does it come from? In 1706, an English mathematician named William Jones was the first person to use pi (pronounced "pie") to describe that 22/7 relationship. The symbol for pi, Π, is the first character of the Greek word perimetron
, which means to "measure around."
And "measuring around" is exactly what you'll be doing in this activity. You'll use the program WebImage
to measure around various circular objects to discover the derivation of pi. (The symbol Π looks like a staple in this particular font, but you can draw it with two vertical lines and a squiggle on top).