
Re: The Reason Why Tau Is Fundamental And Why Pi Is Not
Posted:
Jan 3, 2013 2:30 PM


On Jan 3, 4:17 am, "J.B. Wood" <john.w...@nrl.navy.mil> wrote: > On 01/02/2013 07:44 PM, 1treePetrifiedForestLane wrote:> if you're programming the navigational device, > > I want to get off of the spaceship; thank you. > > seriously, to what value do you assign, > > the Greek letter, tau?
My first post of the new year. Happy New Year!
> Hello, and what is to be gained by multiplying pi by an integer and and > then introducing a new constant?
Just last week, I watched a precalculus student struggle with the concept of radian measure. The student sees a right angle and wants to call its measure "pi/4," since intuitively such an angle is a quarter of _something_. And then when I point out that the intuitive answer is off by a factor of two, the student then replies with "pi/8" instead.
This is why some mathematicians argue that the fundamental circle constant should be tau, not pi. Then many teenagers struggling with math will be able to refer to the right angle as "tau/4" and be correct. What is to be gained is a more intuitive measure and fewer wrong answers on high school precalculus exams.
Like the OP, I have indeed watched the YouTube videos that advocate tau over pi (most notably by Vi Hart). And, like the OP, I've also seen the video advocating the right angle as the fundamental constant, which the author calls "eta" (whereas Herc calls it "RA"). But then again, I prefer to use "eta" to denote e^(1/e), a number that appears in tetration.
One thing I like about the pi vs. tau debates is that we do not have each side of the debate accusing the other of not understanding mathematics, as frequently occurs in the Cantor and other sci.math debates.
Once again, Happy New Year, and I look forward to celebrating both Pi Day and Tau Day in 2013.

