Math Nerds Rejoice As U.S. Population Hits 314.159 Million

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 14 2012 7:55 PM

Math Nerds Rejoice As U.S. Population Hits 314.159 Million

pi
As of Tuesday afternoon, America's population was pi times 10 to the eighth.

Benjamin Haas / Shutterstock.com

From the department of utterly meaningless yet charmingly geeky milestones (it’s a larger department than you might think) comes word that the United States’ population on Tuesday hit 314,159,265, according to the Census Bureau’s population clock. As all math geeks know, that’s pi times 10 to the eighth, rounded to the nearest whole number.

Pi, for those who have forgotten or repressed their middle-school geometry lessons, is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. The census bureau, bless its heart, saw fit to put out a brief news release marking the occasion. It reported that we reached the milestone shortly after 2:29 p.m. eastern today. The timing is not precise, since the population clock is an estimate rather than an exact count. (It assumes one birth every eight seconds, one death every 14 seconds, and one net migrant every 46 seconds.) But pi is an irrational number anyway, so who cares.

Advertisement

"This is a once-in-many-generations event… so go out and celebrate this American pi," Census Bureau Chief Demographer Howard Hogan said, probably not off-the-cuff.

What other statistical serendipities should we be on the lookout for in the coming years? God help us if our population ever hits Avogadro’s number…

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 21 2014 11:27 AM There Is Now a Real-life Hoverboard You Can Preorder for $10,000
  Life
Quora
Oct. 21 2014 11:37 AM What Was It Like to Work at the Original Napster?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 21 2014 12:05 PM Same-Sex Couples at Home With Themselves in 1980s America
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.