The use of “3.0″ as the value of pi led to problems in schools, businesses, and local scientific pursuits, including a group of frustrated engineers at the NASA research facility in Huntsville. According to NASA/Huntsville’s director of special projects “Dr.” Jim Simon (doctorate pending), “We had strayed from using our Microsoft software and instead had been trying to figure out how to use an advanced Google search platform, which was sold to us as a powerful Cloud Computing system.”
Unfortunately, that effort proved frustrating for the “rocket scientists” any time they used calculations involving pi, based on the Alabama-standard value of 3.0, mostly because they were under the mistaken impression that they were contractually barred from using Cloud Computing on any sunny days. Given the hospitable local weather that left them unable to use their computers for an average of 290 days each year.
Simon also admitted that his team had initially purchased the Google solution based on a misunderstanding of basic terminology. “We had heard of Web 2.0, but we thought we were using Web 3.0, which would make it that much better.”
A series of disturbing and sometimes comical mistakes ensued, costing NASA some $650 million in cost overruns, seven “missing space monkeys,” and eventually leading to a request to Microsoft for assistance.
Microsoft Research agreed late last year to sponsor the bold initiative to recapture mathematical constancy and pi’s local utility for “the Heart of Dixie.”
Microsoft Research used cutting-edge semantic-analysis techniques to ascertain that the “round in compass” phrase was actually an allusion to the advantages of using proprietary calculating methods, as opposed to the then popular “open” approach of drawing round figures in sand.
In addition, it was determined that “cubits” had actually been mistranslated as a unit of measure, when in actuality it should more accurately be understood as a unit of cost, referring to a recurring license owed on the use of the altar.
According to spokeswoman Ms. April Fools, final calculations allowed Microsoft to determine the “true-up value of pi” to be a definitive 3.141999, or as expressed in company literature, “Three easy payments of 1.047333.”
Simon points out that there is one remaining question mark over the new pi value: reconciling the ten-years worth of NASA calculations which relied on the 3.0 value, with the newer, slightly higher value. “We need to do some additional research on that missing differential, to find cases where the slight variance makes a difference. We’re combing through our work now to find that slice of pi.”
For more info, see the official NASA Huntsville website.
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