"I know it will be called blasphemy by some, but I believe that pi is wrong."
That's the opening line of a watershed essay written in 2001 by mathematician Bob Palais of the University of Utah. In "Pi is Wrong!" Palais argued that, for thousands of years, humans have been focusing their attention and adulation on the wrong mathematical constant.
Two times pi, not pi itself, is the truly sacred number of the circle, Palais contended. We should be celebrating and symbolizing the value that is equal to approximately 6.28 ? the ratio of a circle's circumference to its radius ? and not to the 3.14'ish ratio of its circumference to its diameter (a largely irrelevant property in geometry).