The Universe of Discourse

Tue, 17 Oct 2006

It's not pi
In August I was in Portland for OSCON. One afternoon I went out to Washington Park to visit the museums there. The light rail station is underground, inside a hill, and the walls are decorated with all sorts of interesting things. For example, there's an illuminated panel with pictures of a sea urchin, a cactus, and a guy with a mohawk; another one compares an arm bone and a trombone. They bored a long lava core out of the hill, and display the lava core on the wall:

I think a wall display of "boring lava" is really funny. Yes, I know this means I'm a doofus.

The inbound platform walls have a bunch of mathematics displays, including a display of Pascal's triangle. Here's a picture of one of them that I found extremely puzzling:

Bona fide megageeks will see the problem at once: it appears to be π, but it isn't. π is 3.14159265358979323846... ., not 3.1415926535821480865144... as graven in stone above.

So what's the deal? Did they just screw up? Did they think nobody would notice? Is it a coded message? Or is there something else going on that I didn't get?

[ Addendum 20061017: The answer! ]

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