Can you imagine performing Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine and following it up with a recitation of Poe’s “The Raven?” That would be just over 2000 words learned within a context. How about 50 or 75 or 200 phone numbers of people you don’t know, each with a different area code, and saying them in a specific order? That would be like memorizing a portion of Pi. It would be no small feat, and something the Academy Memory Club works on when they get together each week.
This year, the founder of the club, Youyou Wu ’19, sits down with me at 3:30 p.m. on Pi Day and begins her recitation. She writes the digits on a piece of paper as she says them. She visualizes images of numbers placed in rooms in her “memory palace” as she lists them pair-by-pair. At 4 o’clock she has recited 720 digits; at 5 p.m. she completes the 1680th digit; and at 5:25 p.m. she reaches her goal of 2019 digits (her graduation year!).
More and more people are becoming familiar with March 14 being referred to as Pi Day and many celebrate with a pastry pie. The Academy has been celebrating Pi Day for well over a decade and each student in the Middle and Upper School receives a miniature pie as part of that celebration. Alumni will send e-mails (and this year a phone call!) recalling Pi Day and reminiscing about their mini-pies. Some include their recitation of 10 digits in hopes of receiving their own treat. I wonder if Youyou will leave a two-hour voice mail for me on a future Pi Day?
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