Daily TWiP ArchivesSomething interesting has happened on (just about) every day of the year, and Daily TWiP provides the proof. An offshoot of my local events column The Week in Preview (affectionately known as TWiP), Daily TWiP was published April 2008-Aug. 2011 and is still giving readers reasons to celebrate.
More in "Daily TWiP"
- Daily TWiP - Oct. 23: National Mole Day
- Daily TWiP - June 18: International Picnic Day
- Daily TWiP - June 30, 1859: The Great Blondin crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope
- Daily TWiP - Dec. 1, 1761: Famed wax sculptor Madame Tussaud born
- Daily TWiP - Dec. 4: National Cookie Day
- Daily TWiP - Oct. 8: National Fluffernutter Day
- Daily TWiP - Sept. 7, 1936: "Benjamin," the last thylacine, dies
- Daily TWiP - Nov. 12, 1933: First photograph of the Loch Ness Monster taken
- Daily TWiP - April 1, 1957: The BBC pulls off its infamous spaghetti tree hoax
- Daily TWiP - April 11, 1954: The most boring day of the 20th century
- Daily TWiP - May 3, 1978: The first spam email is sent
- Daily TWiP - Feb. 28, 1939: The non-word “dord” is discovered in Webster’s New International Dictionary
- Daily TWiP - March 3, 1931: "The Star-Spangled Banner," set to the tune of an English drinking song, becomes the U.S. national anthem
- Daily TWiP - May 16, 1777: The American with the most valuable autograph is fatally wounded in a duel
- Daily TWiP - May 25: Towel Day and Geek Pride Day
- Daily TWiP - June 30: National Ice Cream Soda Day
- Daily TWiP - July 22: Spoonerism Day
- Daily TWiP - Aug. 13: International Left-Handers' Day
- Daily TWiP - Aug. 23, 1784: The short-lived state of Franklin declares its independence from North Carolina
- Daily TWiP - Feb. 5, 1897: The Indiana General Assembly unanimously votes to change the value of pi
- Daily TWiP - March 10: International Day of Awesomeness and Chuck Norris' birthday
- Daily TWiP - Jan. 25: National Irish Coffee Day
- Daily TWiP - Nov. 30, 1954: Ann Hodges becomes the first person hit by a meteorite
- Daily TWiP - Oct. 6, 1582 does not happen in certain countries
- Daily TWiP - Sept. 17, 1859: Joshua A. Norton declares himself Emperor of the United States
- Daily TWiP - Sept. 30, 2004: First images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat are taken
- Daily TWiP - Aug. 27, 1896: The shortest war in recorded history is fought
- Daily TWiP - July 30, 1419: Czechs chuck politicians (literally) during the First Defenestration of Prague
- Daily TWiP - July 21, 356 B.C.: Herostratus destroys one of the Seven Wonders of the World to ensure his own fame
- Daily TWiP - May 14: National Dance Like A Chicken Day
- Daily TWiP - Jan. 26, 2004: Dead whale unexpectedly explodes in Tainan, Taiwan
- Daily TWiP - Jan. 8, 1835: U.S. national debt hits zero for the first and only time
Daily TWiP – Feb. 5, 1897: The Indiana General Assembly unanimously votes to change the value of pi
You’d think that since pi is by definition a mathematical constant, it would be left alone to go about its business of representing the value of the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Today (Feb. 5) in 1897, however, Indiana’s General Assembly found itself faced with a confusing bit of legislation courtesy of a crank mathematician looking to make a quick buck by essentially redefining the value of pi.
House Bill 246 was introduced Jan. 18, 1897, by Representative Taylor I. Record at the behest of one of his constituents, a physician by the name of Edwin J. Goodwin. Goodwin believed he had succeeded in squaring the circle, which would result in pi having a new, easier-to-work-with value of 3.2.
Being a good Hoosier, Goodwin offered his home state the opportunity to use his revolutionary mathematical concepts in the educational system free of charge, providing they passed these concepts into law. Everyone else in the world would be required to pay him a royalty.
You can read the full text of the bill here. None of the legislators (including Record) fully understood the bill, which was loaded with jargon-heavy statements that contradicted one another as well as the basic laws of geometry.
After the bill had been reviewed by the House Committee on Canals (apparently the legislators thought it had something to do with land surveyance) and the House Education Committee, the House passed the bill 67 to 0 on Feb. 5, 1897, by the recommendation of the Education Committee.
Had it not been for mathematics professor Clarence A. Waldo of Purdue University, the bill might have passed the Senate as well. He was at the statehouse to lobby for the university’s budget appropriation and fortuitously overheard the mathematical back-and-forth in the House, where one representative advocated passing the bill on the basis that the state would save money by not having to pay royalties on the new value of pi.
Waldo lost no time in approaching the Senate and carefully explaining the bill to them in painstaking detail. When the bill went before the Senate about a week later, the senators were in a much better position to handle it.
The Senate voted to table the bill indefinitely, not because they disagreed with Goodwin’s findings – even after Waldo’s coaching, most of them admitted they still didn’t understand the bill – but because they didn’t believe mathematical constants were an appropriate subject for legislation.
Senator Hubbell was quoted in the Indianapolis Journal as saying, “The Senate might as well try to legislate water to run up hill as to establish mathematical truth by law.”
And that, pretty much, was that. The bill hasn’t come up on the Senate agenda since.
– Teresa Santoski
Originally published Feb. 5, 2010