Saturday, March 15, 2014

I think that I shall ne’er enjoy a piem as lovely as a Troi

If you clicked on the first link in the preceding post for Pi Day, you may have encountered a new word in your reading. I did (clicked), and I did (encounter a new word in my reading).

The new word was piem.

Never heard of it before.

A piem is a poem but not all poems are piems.

Let me explain.

A piem is a special kind of poem that represents pi (you know, our old friend 3.14159 and so on ad infinitum). Each word in a piem consists of n letters where n represents the digits in pi. That is, the first word contains 3 letters, the second word contains 1 letter, the third word contains 4 letters, and so on. Piems were originally introduced by the English physicist, astronomer and mathematician, Sir James Hopwood Jeans (1877-1946).

Here, from that link, is an example of a piem:

“How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics.”

Perhaps it could have been arranged more poetically on the page:

How
I
want
a
drink,
alcoholic
of
course,
after
the
heavy
lectures
involving
quantum
mechanics.

Or perhaps more like -- but not exactly -- a haiku:

How I want
a drink,
alcoholic of course,
after the heavy lectures involving
quantum mechanics.

The possibilities, especially in longer piems, are -- like pi -- endless.

Convert the number of letters in each word of that 15-word piem to a numeral and, voila!, the result is 3.14159265358979 (pi to 14 decimal places).

Here is pi to the first 100 decimal places:

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679

Knock yourselves out coming up with piems of your own in the comments.

Chances are, however, that they won’t be nearly as lovely as actress Marina Sirtis in her role on Star Trek: The Next Generation as the half-human, half-Betazoid empath, Commander Deanna Troi, whom you may see here.

My sincere apologies to Joyce Kilmer for the title of this post.

7 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Sir James Hopwood Jeans should have stuck to physics, astronomy, mathematics and the manufacture of "Hopwood" branded jeans as he clearly had zero poetic ability.
Pie 'em! = a command to hurl pies at physicists, astronomers and mathematicians.

Elephant's Child said...

It is early here, and this concept is making both of my brain cells hurt.
And, I think I prefer pi free poetry.

rhymeswithplague said...

Yorkshire Pudding, I seem to have struck a nerve. But just because a piem must conform to a predetermined structure and doesn't rhyme in the least doesn't mean it isn't a poem, does it? Or does it?

Elephant's Child, I agree with you completely. I prefer pi free poetry too. Learning new things expands your brain cells, though, and that is a good thing.

Pat - Arkansas said...

I fear I have not added one single neuron to the 100 million already contained in my brain by learning that pi, according to the link you furnished yesterday, has been carried out to the trillionth decimal place. TMI, as my grandchildren might say. A pi-em based on that calculation would be very long, indeed!

rhymeswithplague said...

Pat, I tried to add neurons to my brain my composing a piem, but my gray matter will not cooperate.

rhymeswithplague said...

Pat, I tried to add neurons to my brain my composing a piem, but my gray matter will not cooperate.

Tom Stephenson said...

Nicely put - to within 100 decimal places.