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To pi or not to pi, that is the question

Back in November 2007, I had fun musing about finding specific numbers in the famous irrational number pi. Since pi is an infinitely long irrational number, whose digits are essentially random, one can find any number within its digits with some probability. This even includes having the entire text of every book you’ve ever read, have read — indeed of every book that CAN be written — contained within is infinite stream of numbers when that text is converted into some numbering system (like ASCII binary).

This is easy to blog about, but it turns out that it isn’t so easy to really prove something like the digits of pi are actually random. Never fear, scientists at Berkeley Lab have been working on it. Here is a fun site created by said scientists using the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing) center that actually converts any text to ASCII binary and searches for it in pi out to 4 billion digits (also in binary). For example, the word “hamlet” is 010000000101101011000010110100 in 30 bit ASCII binary. This stream of 1s and 0s appears at location 3,088,420,204 in Ï€ (when pi itself is expressed in binary). Many thanks to slashdot user ideonode (163753) for pointing this out (I am xPsi on slashdot).

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