Super Pi Day!

This Saturday, March 14th, 2015 is Super Pi Day!happy-pi-day

Pi Day is the celebration of the irrational number that calculates the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Commonly expressed as 3.14159 or simply 3.14, the ending of Pi has actually never been determined. Some mathematicians have calculated up to billions or even trillions of decimal places! Here, the Pi Day website shares one million digits of Pi. Even more fascinating, these numbers are said to continue infinitely without repetition or pattern! The theory lies in understanding that squaring a circle would be impossible, thus calculating an ending to Pi would be equally unlikely. Educator Reynaldo Lopes explains the nature and applications of Pi in his TedEd lecture:

 

This Saturday is considered “Super” Pi Day because the date precisely reflects the first few digits:

3/14/15

3.1415

To get even more precise, if one notes the time at 9:26 a.m., 54 seconds, it’s even more super!

3/14/15, 9:26:54

3.14159265359

That is exactly what the University of Arizona plans to do during their Science City event this weekend, held in conjunction with the Tucson Festival of Books. Right before 9:27 a.m., Science City will host a Super Pi Kickoff, at their “Super Pi Zone.” Details here.

If you can’t visit our neighbors in Pima County this weekend, but still want to learn more about this fascinating number, here are some links and books in our collection.

Happy Super Pi Day everyone!


On the Web:

Exploratorium – Pi related crafts, activities, and links
Tucson Festival of Book’s Super Pi Day Official Facebook Page
NationalPiDay.org Activities page

Books:

indexThe Joy of Pi
by David Blatner
1997
“No number has captured the attention and imagination of people throughout the ages as much as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi is infinite and, inThe Joy of pi, it proves to be infinitely intriguing.” – Walker & Co Publishing
pi a biography

Pi: A Biography of the World’s Most Mysterious Number
by Alfred Posamentier
2004
“We all learned that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is called pi and that the value of this algebraic symbol is roughly 3.14. What we weren’t told, though, is that behind this seemingly mundane fact is a world of mystery, which has fascinated mathematicians from ancient times to the present. Simply put, pi is weird.” – Prometheus Books


index (1)Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure

by Cindy Neuschwander
1999
“When Sir Cumference drinks a potion which turns him into a dragon, his son Radius searches for the magic number known as pi which will restore him to his former shape.” – Charlesbridge Publishing
index (2) Why Pi?
by Johnny Ball
2009
“This entertaining follow-up to DK’s popular Go Figure!, Why Pi? presents even more mind-bending ways to think about numbers. This time, author Johnny Ball focuses on how people have used numbers to measure things through the ages, from the ways the ancient Egyptians measured the pyramids to how modern scientists measure time and space.” – DK Publishing

download The Joy of Mathematics: The Great Courses DVD

by Lawrence Lessig
2007
“Ready to exercise those brain cells? Humans have been having fun with mathematics for thousands of years. Along the way, they’ve discovered the amazing utility of this field—in science, engineering, finance, games of chance, and many other aspects of life. This course of 24 half-hour lectures celebrates the sheer joy of mathematics, taught by a mathematician who is literally a magician with numbers.” – Teaching Company Publishing

We Recommend… The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Seasonbone-season-samantha-shannon-bloomsbury-cover
Samantha Shannon
Bloomsbury, 2013.

Imagine the year 2059, in London.  It is a city where a Grand Inquisitor reigns, and anyone with any kind of clairvoyance or psychic ability has to hide it away, because the normal people call them “unnaturals”.  They are in constant danger of being taken by the guards and sent to a secret city that is ruled by human-looking extraterrestrials. Paige Mahoney is a special kind of clairvoyant, a dreamwalker, and she works for one of the criminal lords with a close-knit group of clairvoyants.  Then a day comes when she is kidnapped and taken to the secret city, where the Rephaim treat humans as slaves.  Paige fights the evil Rephaim, and also the strange creatures that feed on both humans and Rephaim, while constantly hoping to escape.  The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon is the author’s debut novel and also the first in her series, followed by The Mime Order.

*Bonus: If you are attempting the “2015 READING CHALLENGE”, The Bone Season fulfills the challenge to read “A book written by someone under 20″, or “A popular author’s first books”, among other possible categories.

On the Web:

Official Book Series Website

Post by Eileen Jaffe, Pinal County Library District Cataloger

We Recommend… Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?download (3)
Roz Chast
Bloomsbury, 2014.

This book has been passed around the Library District Office, and I am the third of my co-workers to read it. It has been greatly enjoyed by all of us! If you have never read a Graphic Novel as an adult, or wondered why an adult would read a ‘comic book,’ this book is an opportunity for you to try this genre.

The story is relatable for anyone who has worried about their aging parents or who may find themselves facing this situation in the future. While the subject is serious, it is balanced by hilarious drawings and conversations that often made me laugh out loud.

In this memoir, Roz Chast uses colorful sketches and humorous anecdotes to illustrate her relationship with her aging parents. She feels guilt over the fact that both of her parents can still drive her crazy even though she is now an adult with children of her own. She is particularly concerned that her parents, now in their 90s, continue to avoid discussions about death or what kind of arrangements they would prefer regarding nursing homes and funerals. As an only child, she is on her own as she navigates the confusing world of her parents’ insurance and mounting hospital bills. Her father’s dementia makes him an easy target for her mother’s overbearing nature, yet the relationship between the parents is one of the most amusing aspects of the book.

The graphic novel format adds lightness and humor to the challenges of family relationships. A nice addition is the photos revealing her parents’ pack-rat nature and the accumulation of items over decades, such as eye glasses and kitchenware from the 1950s.

*Bonus: If you are attempting the “2015 READING CHALLENGE”, this book fulfills the challenge to read “A Graphic Novel”, and I am also listing it under the challenge to read “A book that scares you”. I was scared that the topic would be depressing, but it really was funny, true, and fantastic.

On the Web:

Roz Chast’s Offical Website
Jewish Book Council Book Club Reader’s Guide

Post by Jodi Griffith, Pinal County Library District Cataloger

We Recommend… Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman

Downtown Owl: A NovelDowntown_Owl_(Chuck_Klosterman_book)
Chuck Klosterman
Scribner, 2008.

The small, fictional town of Owl, North Dakota is the setting for Chuck Klosterman’s novel which questions how much the place where we live truly affects the course of our lives. Does the outcome of our lives depend on where we have settled and carry out our daily routines? Would we really have made different choices if we lived elsewhere? Or would our lives still turn out more or less the same no matter where we lived?

The chapters cycle between 3 narrators. Mitch is a high school student, whose enthusiasm for football outweighs his actual ability to pull his weight on the team. Julia has just moved to Owl to fill a position as the new high school teacher. She connects with Owl residents most fully (and copes with small town life most successfully) when she is drinking at the local bars. Horace, a seventy-year-old widow, drinks coffee with other retirees at the town diner promptly at 3:oo pm every afternoon to exchange town gossip. Through the stories of the three main characters, we also find out the stories of the other citizens in Owl. Klosterman’s clever use of language perfectly conveys the wide range of personalities and characters who populate the town.

Klosterman is most well-known for his essays on pop culture. Although I have not read his essays, I will keep my hopes up for more fiction from Chuck Klosterman.

*Bonus: If you are attempting the “2015 READING CHALLENGE”, Downtown Owl fulfills the challenge to read “A book set in a high school” among other possible categories.

On the Web:

Simon & Schuster Reading Group Guide
Chuck Klosterman Official Web Page

Post by Jodi Griffith, Pinal County Library District Cataloger

We Recommend… The Fever by Megan Abbott

The FeverThe Fever
Megan Abbott

The Fever by Megan Abbott is a psychological thriller that keeps us wanting answers.  We follow the inner dialogues of Deenie, her brother, Eli, and their father, Tom, along with Deenie’s two best friends.  When her friend Lise suddenly is struck down with a terrible seizure in class, and remains in a coma, and other girls in the school also seem to be struck with a strange illness, the whole town erupts in accusations, first about the toxic lake that glows in the dark, and then about the HPV vaccine that most of the girls were given.  Almost until the very end we cannot be sure what is causing the strange illnesses, but, finally, there is an answer, and it is a complete surprise.  This novel is a fascinating look into where desire can lead, wreaking havoc on the lives it touches.

On the web:

Author Website
Publisher Website
New York Times Book Review

Post by Eileen Jaffe, Pinal County Library District Cataloger

We Recommend… Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin

woman with a gunWoman With A Gun is the newest novel by Phillip Margolin.  This is a murder mystery, plain and simple.  Well, not so simple since there are numerous suspects and the original murder is not solved until the very end of the book.  The photograph of the woman with a gun on the front cover is a photograph that the author saw in a restaurant, and he was so taken with it that he bought it and wrote this novel around it.  There are a number of main characters, one of whom is the young woman novelist who sees the photograph at the Museum of Modern Art and is so excited by it that she wants to write a novel about it.  Yes, just like Margolin!  We are taken back in years to the original murder when the photograph was taken, and then the author dips into the lives of the different characters here and there through the years, finally returning to the young writer who probes in just the right places to solve everything.   This novel is well written and totally engrossing and the photograph really is begging to tell a story.

Post by Eileen Jaffe, Cataloger, Pinal County Library District

We Recommend… Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

Neil Shubin’s Shubin Inner fishbook, Your Inner Fish: A Journey in the 3.5-Million-Year History of the Human Body, was published in 2009 and in 2014 he hosted a three-part series by the same title on PBS. Prof. Shubin, a paleontologist and professor of anatomy, tells the story of evolution by tracing the various parts of the human body back millions years. One example that I found fascinating was that the structure of our hands resembles that of fish fins.

You don’t need to be a scientist to read his book or to enjoy the PBS series, and the story of his discoveries is both exciting and thought provoking. Reviewer Oliver Sacks calls Shubin’s work “an exhilarating and compelling scientific adventure story that will change forever how you understand what it means to be human” and I agree.

Review by Shirley, Pinal County Library District Outreach Librarian

Find it at your library!
Book
eBook
DVD

Learn more:
Your Inner Fish on PBS

Other Reviews:
Kirkus
Publisher’s Weekly

More by Neil Shubin:
The Universe Within

We Recommend… Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

Dear Daughterdear daughter
by Elizabeth Little

Dear Daughter is the first novel by Elizabeth Little, and it definitely hits the mark.  It opens with the release of Janie Jenkins on a technicality after ten years in prison for killing her mother.  Did she do it?  She really can’t remember, but what little she does remember from that night causes her to doubt her own guilt, and go on a search for the real murderer.  Not that she got along with her mother, but … could she have killed her?  Add to all of this the fact that she is a celebrity living in Beverly Hills, so when she gets out of prison, everyone is looking for her, some want to kill her, almost everyone still thinks she was guilty of her mother’s murder.  So Janie sets off on her search, in disguise, and tells no one where she is going.  She discovers her mother’s background and in the process makes many more discoveries about who her mother was, and who she is, herself.  She is funny, and determined and a very resourceful character.  The story has many twists and turns and by the end, there is one last surprise.  This is an engrossing mystery that many will find hard to put down.

Post by Eileen Jaffe, Pinal County Library District Cataloger 

We Recommend… How Jesus Became God by Bart D. Ehrman

How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacherhow jesus became god
By Bart D. Ehrman

Have you ever asked yourself just how did Jesus become God? I admit this isn’t something I’ve thought much about but I became increasingly fascinated by the question as Professor Ehrman lead me through the various paths to divinity that were commonly present in the ancient world.  According to Booklist, “Ehrman writes very personally, especially in the beginning, and this approach draws the reader into a subject that is littered with curves and contradictions… This fascinating discussion will engage—and provoke—a wide audience.” I agree with this assessment. The book is both well written and well documented yet is completely accessible to the average person.

Book Reviews:
Harper Collins
Catholic Answers
The Catholic Humanist

On the Web:
Author’s Website
Excerpt on NPR

Post by Shirley, Pinal County Library District Outreach Librarian

We Recommend… The Last Policeman

The Lathe last policemanst Policeman
By Ben H. Winters

The Last Policeman is the first book in a pre-apocalyptic trilogy. Detective Hank Palace is a newly appointed detective trying to solve a murder against incredible odds. Palace is confronted with some hard questions as, in the course of his investigation, he runs into plenty of obstacles and a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Discover magazine calls his book “darkly intriguing” and I completely agree. This novel will appeal to mystery readers who appreciate a good police procedural as well as fans of apocalyptic literature. And it will also appeal to those who enjoy pondering some of life’s deeper questions such as “What is the meaning of Life?” and “What would I do?” This book is sure to start a lively conversation and would be a great book club read.

Reading Guides:
Quirk Books
Includes Reader’s Group Guide, Excerpt and Book Trailer & Book Groupies’ Bucket List

Other reviews:
Slate
Kirkus

On the Web:
Author’s website

Post by Shirley, Pinal County Library District Outreach Librarian