Let Them Eat Pi


No, these are not the numbers carved into the hatch of the Swan station on Lost (note: my mourning period for “The Final Episode” has already commenced). No, these numbers are in fact the numerical equivalent of “pi,” a mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter in Euclidean space (thank you, Wikipedia), and compliments of one Mr. Albert Einstein.

A 20-year Princeton resident, professor at the Institute of Advanced Study, Nobel Prize–winning scientist, avid bicycle rider, and apparent cardigan-sweater hoarder, Albert Einstein is the raison d’être for this Sunday’s Princeton Pi Day celebration. A joint effort with the Princeton Public Library and the Princeton Merchants Association, Pi Day is not only a celebration of Big Al’s birthday (March 14), but in one of those totally random cosmic twists, the date also is the numeric equivalent of “pi”: 3.14. Now, I’m no math and physics wiz, but even I know that is pretty neat—and sort of creepy at the same time. Pi Day is an occasion for everyone, Scooplets included, to come out and celebrate his or her inner geek—or maybe just an unadulterated love of pie (keep reading). Hold onto your pocket protectors, people, because there is a lot of Einstein fun going down throughout town this Sunday.

The pi “throwdown” begins at The Princeton Public Library with a pie-judging contest (how can you say no to pie?) and a pi recitation challenge. (Rumor has it that Jen’s Cakes & Pastries will provide the grand prize: a three-dimensional Einstein look-alike cake.) At 1:59 (to wit, the next digits in pi after 3.14), the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab will host interactive lab experiments for the whole family, like blowing up marshmallows and getting an electricity-inspired Einstein hairstyle (I’m so in). Princeton Tour Company also will offer an Albert Einstein walking tour for $3.14 per person, complete with re-enactors (including mother dearest and both of his wives) hidden in various spots along the tour route. The real fun kicks in at 3:14 p.m. when Palmer Square green hosts a town birthday party and pie-throwing event (I have a great arm, so watch out if you see me coming avec key lime). Sponsored by PNC Bank and McCaffrey’s, the soiree will feature ammo supplied by the supermarket, natch. At 3:30, the Princeton Public Library hosts story time with a pi/pie theme (will the allusions never end?), and the day will round out at 4:45 p.m. with the announcement of the winner of an Einstein look-alike contest.

JOY Cards, the fabulous design studio and card shop on Chambers Street (who designed my gorgeous wedding invitations and countless Christmas cards), has created special Pi Day logos. When you see one in the window of a store in town it means there’s a special Pi Day promotion awaiting you—and your pocketbook. And the merchants have really gotten in on the irrational-number fun, including the University Store (23.14% off all Einstein books); jane (3 for ¼ off on all Princeton ephemera and cool, scholarly looking blazers); Luxaby Baby & Child (14% off on up to 3 items); McCarter Theatre (31.4% discount on tickets for the 3/14 performance of American Buffalo; use promo code PI when purchasing your tickets); and Landau’s, who boasts the only permanent Einstein exhibit in the United States and will be hosting an Einstein look-alike contest. Feeling peckish for more than just pi (or pie)? Most of the restaurants in town are offering pi- and Einstein-themed deals, such as Triumph Brewing Company’s Genius Seven Beer Sampler and Mediterra’s and Teresa Caffe’s pi pricing and Einstein-bedecked wait staff. And McCaffrey’s has planned an entire day of pi, too, with the movie IQ playing throughout the store and “pi pricing” in every department. You don’t need E = m c² to figure out it’s a good time to do the grocery shopping.

The Historical Society of Princeton also will host an Einstein birthday party for kids six and older who will become history detectives and explore Einstein’s life and career through his treasured possessions, making crafts, and of course, eating birthday cake. (Two sessions are available at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; registration is required and the cost is $5 per child. Call 609.921.6748, ext. 100 or e-mail jeanette@princetonhistory.org for details.)

For more information on Princeton Pi Day, visit its Facebook page. The famously private man most likely would cringe in his khakis at this wildly enthusiastic celebration of his life and his mind-blowing achievements, but that won’t stop us, proud to say that good old Al called our lovely town his home.  —JH

Posted in Uncategorized