The Bible is correct about the value of pi

Math and religion. Oh how long I’ve wanted a post that combines these two topics.

Anyway, some Bible skeptics like to criticize the Bible for claiming that pi is equal to 3 based on this reference:

(1 Ki 7:23 NIV) He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it.

The circular object is 30 cubits in circumference and 10 cubits in diameter. Thus the Bible says pi = 3, LOL. Right?

Well, it’s not LOL, and it doesn’t take some of the odd gymnastics Biblical apologists use to see why.

It’s all about significant digits. The concept of significant digits helps us determine how precise a number is and how precise we can expect any calculations to be.

For a real-world example, let’s say you’re driving to Houston, desperate to visit me. You see one of those signs that says “Houston 100”, indicating the city is 100 kilometers away. (Yes, I know it’s miles and feet in the US. I want to use metric. Hrmph.)

Imagine you step out of your car and stand by the sign. Then you take a step 1 meter backwards away from Houston. You wouldn’t say “I’m 100.001 km away from Houston now!” Why?

The sign has a precision to the nearest km. We can’t tell whether the sign is actually 100.1 km, 99.729 km, or somewhere in between. There’s a limit to how precise we can be.

Let’s go back to the Bible passage. The dimensions are 30 cubits and 10 cubits, both numbers with only one significant digit. Without any further information on the measurements’ precision, calculations can only be expected to be precise to one significant digit.

30 / 10 = 3. Pi to one significant digit is 3. The Biblical figure for pi is as accurate as it can possibly be given the measurements. Nothing to see here. There are enough questions about the Bible not to dwell on a non-issue.

Monday Fighter!

The greatest lasting memory of Katrushka’s and I’s trip to the 2011 Houston Rodeo consists of the pictures below.

Harlon’s BBQ apparently is not overly concerned with the English language. I count five spelling or grammatical errors in the first picture alone.

If you hate the French…

Chess and cheating. They start with the same first 3 letters, so it makes sense that they go hand-in-hand.

According to The Independent, three titled French players were caught cheating in a fairly elaborate scheme.

One collaborator followed the games on the Internet and used a powerful chess engine to find moves. These would be texted, coded as phone numbers, to another collaborator. This guy would move between tables, the tables signifying certain squares.

The accused are denying it, but have already been suspended by the French national organization.

Source: White knights catch French grandmasters cheating by text

Great moments in history

So there was this Dutch guy named Vincent van Gogh. He was some sort of artist who did some Post-Impressionist stuff.

When he was 5, his classmates made fun of him for having names with the number of letters being prime numbers (Vincent = 7, van = 3, Gogh = 4). Except they didn’t realize 4 wasn’t a prime number. Even when van Gogh found out later, it didn’t help; the incident scarred him for life. He was officially diagnosed with primenumberphobia (I forgot the technical term).

At first he and another famous artist, Paul Gauguin, became friends. But Van Gogh was afraid another artist would steal his claim to fame, having two “G”‘s in his last name. So Van Gogh attacked Gauguin with a Norelco electric shaver, but comically slipped on a banana peel and cut off his own ear instead.

When he was 37 years old, his phobia of prime numbers finally overwhelmed him. He realized he was going to survive into the 1900’s if he didn’t do something (remember, 19 is a prime number). So he stabbed himself with 2 butter knives on July 29 (that’s 7/29. 2, 7, and 29 are all prime numbers. So is 37. Freaky, huh?)

So this guy was a freak, but I don’t think all Dutch are freaks, so don’t worry. I reserve those feelings for the Québécois.

Gays in the military

OK, so. The Washington Times doesn’t seem too happy about the US military slowly becoming more tolerant towards gays. The title of their article is “Military indoctrinated on gays kissing, behavior“. Either they are not trying to hide their bias, or are very bad at doing it.

But what was really amazing was the vitriol in the comments section. (Apparently, openly gay soldiers will try to have sex with everyone in the unit they can.)

I would like to ask those people to go find out about a military that has allowed gays for a while, and see how big of a “problem” it is. Let’s say, the Israel Defense Forces, as a lot of those people likely think Israel is the best invention since sliced bread.

Source: Military indoctrinated on gays kissing, behavior

Submit your stuff for the April Chess Improvement Carnival

For some reason, we have agreed to host the next Chess Carnival. Several months ago, Blue Devil Knight took the initiative in trying to improve the state of the chess blogosphere by initiating the chess improvement carnival again.

What is this carnival? It’s where you, dear reader, submit quality material to share with the world. Your article should be related to chess improvement. If you want to participate, submit an article here.

In case you missed them, here are the prior carnivals:

March 2011, Blunderprone
February 2011, Brooklyn64
January 2011, Blue Devil Knight


By the way, you can be assured that I will treat the carnival with the utmost respect.

: I won’t.

: Shut up, you.

: You’re not hosting this because you like chess, you just want the extra traffic, don’t you?

: Er, um, no….of course not…

Annual March Madness Bracket

Hey, people, it’s that time of year again!

We’re having our annual March Madness bracket over at espn.com. I think you can also sign in with Facebook if you don’t have an account already.

The winner gets glory and honor among the 25 or so regular readers of LEP. Isn’t that swell?

The Liquid Egg Product Bracket

Chess Enquirer, March 2011

In this month’s issue…

Paranormal investigators reveal…Carlsen cheats with help from Elvis!

“You can clearly see the ghost of Elvis with our special Spirit Cameras. No wonder he didn’t want to compete for the World Championship…he would have been caught!” — Paranormal investigator

“We’re clearly starting to run out of ideas.” — Chess Enquirer Editor

Taliban member kicked out for admitting women can play chess too. “I guess I won’t be getting those virgins…”

Prior Chess Enquirers:

May 2010
January 2010
June 2008

Scrabble win

A few weeks ago, Katrushka and I were playing some Scrabble. Here’s the board, and it’s my move:

As, a side note, I suspect the words “dragoon” and “targe” provide evidence of our gaming origins. Anyway, I was pretty far behind at this point and needed something great to get back in the game. Lo and behold:

Playing “dens” got me credit for “crazed” and “dragoons” as well. Despite this brilliant 33 point play, I eventually lost to my superior and beautiful opponent, on the order of 299-225.