The cult of pi

Pi 1453836 1280This article, about the ‘cult of pi’ and the sport of finding ever more of its digits, grabbed me because of this fascinating mention about a different number:

’Interestingly, although pi goes on forever, its digits never repeating, it is not the most complicated number imaginable – at least according to algorithmic information theory. This mathematical field, developed by a 15-year-old Argentinean-American called Gregory Chaitin, equates the complexity of a number with the length of the computer program – written in the 0s and 1s of binary arithmetic – needed to generate it. Pi requires a relatively short computer program to create, and so, by this measure, is not a very complex number. By contrast, omega (Ω), otherwise known as “Chaitin’s number”, requires an infinitely long computer program. Incapable of being summarised by, or compressed into, fewer digits than its actual length, it makes pi appear a mere pipsqueak.

But this does not lessen people’s fascination with pi.…’

— via New Humanist

Burning the witch

SkullA former pastor holds the skull of his wife, who was accused of sorcery in central Papua New Guinea and killed by axe


’According to the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network, there have been over 20,000 victims of accusations of witchcraft and related harmful practices over the last decade, spread across 60 countries. The research, published in November 2020, includes reports of over 5,250 murders, 60 disappearances in suspicious circumstances, and 14,700 attempted killings and physical attacks. While Papua New Guinea suffers disproportionately from the phenomenon, many parts of Africa and India also have high rates. Wealthier countries in the west are affected too. In 2019 the number of children known to have been abused in England as a result of beliefs in witchcraft and possession was reported to have risen by a third in two years, with almost 2,000 identified victims.…’

— via New Humanist