More of the Memory Project. Memorization of poems, prose, songs, lists are all enhanced by the meaningful context, syntax, semantics, cause and effect, mathematical sequence and chronology. Spiritual, mental, emotional and physical associations arise, in a manner or speaking, out of the thing being committed to memory. What it means to learn something "by heart."
Then there is the mathematical constant π: the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter: 3.14 as it is most commonly known. It is an irrational number, infinite with no repeats. As far as memory is concerned, it has an aura of purity around it. Pure memorization. No rhyme or reason to it. Nothing to lock on to. Just an endless series of numbers.
The current record holder is Mr. Chao Lu from China, who on November 20th, 2005 spent 24 hours and 4 minutes reciting Pi to 67,890 places. In an interview, he said that it took him a year to memorize that many digits. In 2006, Krishan Chahal from India recited Pi to 43,000 places in 5 hours and 21 minutes. It is worth noting that the youngest person on the Pi World Ranking List is 6 year-old Sarianna Kuuttila, who recited Pi to 20 digits in 4.47 seconds.
There are many methods for memorizing Pi. Piphilology is the study of mnemonic techniques for Pi. Since I use poetry and music as primary mnemonic aids, I was interested to find two mnemonic poems to Pi. The first, composed by Jill Britton, is relatively easy and most people might be surprised that they can memorize Pi to 31 places (note that the number of letters in the word correspond to Pi):
Sir, I bear a rhyme excelling
In mystic force and magic spelling
Celestial sprites elucidate
All my own striving can’t relate
Or locate they who can cogitate
And so finally terminate. Finis.
32795The second is more interesting. Created by Joel Doerfel as part of his Neon Shakespeare Project , it uses a clever mnemonic technique of, what he calls "synathesia" - a sort of derivation of a number from the homophonetic sound of the word or phonetic elements of the word. In Japan, there is a form of wordplay called Goroawase similar to this. By using this method for the duration of 14 line sonnet, with approximately 10 "number-sounds" per line, you can memorize Pi to 140 places. I must admit that as fascinating as the video is, the recitation leaves something to be desired as for as a helpful mnemonic device. So, I have taken the liberty of doing an interlinear "translation" below to assist with memorization.
From Poems that Rhyme with Pi:
This sonnet is an experiment in synaesthesia. Why rhyme with pi? What's the relation between sound and number? What happens to our ears when we hear pi reinforce itself with repetitive numbers? What happens to our ears when we hear a poem reinforce itself with repetitive sounds? This sonnet explores these questions and more...
dreams number us like pi. runes shift. nights rewind daytime pleasure-piles. dream-looms create our id. moods shift. words deviate. needs brew. pleasures rise. time slows. too late? wait! foreign minds live in us! quick-minds, free-minds, minds-we-never-mind, unknown, gyrate! neuro-rhymes measure our minds, for our minds rhyme. crude ego-emanations distort nodes. id, (whose basic neuro-spacetime rhymes), plays its tune. space drones before fate unites dreams' lore to unsung measures. whole dimensions gyrate. new number-games donate quick minds and weave through fate's loom. fears, hopes, digits, or devils collide here—labor stored in gold-mines, lives, lightcone- piles. fate loops through dreams and pleasure-looms...
dreams number us like pi. runes shift. nights rewind
3. 1 4 1 5 9 2 6 5 3 5
daytime pleasure-piles. dream-looms create our id.
8 9 7 9 3 2 3 8 4 6
moods shift. words deviate. needs brew. pleasures rise.
2 6 4 3 3 8 3 2 7 9
time slows. too late? wait! foreign minds live in
5 0 2 8 8 4 1 9 7
us! quick-minds, free-minds, minds-we-never-mind,
1 6 9 3 9 9 3 7 5
unknown, gyrate! neuro-rhymes measure our
1 0 5 8 2 0 9 7 4
minds, for our minds rhyme. crude ego-emanations
9 4 4 5 9 2 3 0 7 8 1
distort nodes. id, (whose basic neuro-spacetime rhymes),
6 4 0 6 2 8 6 2 0 8 9 9
plays its tune. space drones before fate unites
8 6 2 8 0 3 4 8 2 5
dreams’ lore to unsung measures. whole dimensions
3 4 2 1 1 7 0 6 7
gyrate. new number-games donate quick minds and
9 8 2 1 4 8 0 8 6 5 1
weave through fate’s loom. fears, hopes, digits, or devils
3 2 8 2 3 0 6 6 4 7
collide here—labor stored in gold-mines, lives, lightcone-
0 9 3 8 4 4 6 0 9 5 5 0
piles. fate loops through dreams and pleasure-looms….
5 8 2 2 3 1 7 2
And here is Sonnet 72 from Shakespeare:
And here is Sonnet 72 from Shakespeare:
O, lest the world should task you to recite
What merit lived in me, that you should love
After my death, -- dear love, forget me quite,
For you in me can nothing worthy prove;
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,
To do more for me than mine own desert,
And hang more praise upon deceased I
Than niggard truth would willingly impart:
O, lest your true love may seem false in this,
That you for love speak well of me untrue,
My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
For I am sham'd by that which I bring forth,
And so should you, to love things nothing worth.