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

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

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.