The Big Question: How close have we come to knowing the precise value of pi? | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


The Big Question: How close have we come to knowing the precise value of pi?

A French computer programmer has calculated pi to a world record of almost 2,700 billion decimal places. Fabrice Bellard said he did it for the programming challenge rather than any particular interest in this infinitely long number. All the more remarkable is that he did it on a desktop computer costing less than £2,000. It took 131 days to complete the calculation and the resulting number took up more than 1,000 gigabytes of memory on his hard drive. Downloading it would take 10 days and reciting it aloud would take about 49,000 years.
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The first general computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, calculated pi to more than 2,000 digits in 1949 and in 2005 a Chinese student, Lu Chao, memorized and recited pi to 67,890 digits, without making a mistake.

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