Sometimes the simplest things teach us about humility. What in our world seems simpler than a circle? And yet it contains an eternal mystery that no human will ever be able to solve. That’s because the area (A) of a circle is equal to Pi (π) times the Radius (r) squared, that is:
It turns out that Pi is an irrational number, which is defined as:
The number pi, which has a constant value that approximately equals 3.14, is an irrational number. It is a type or real number that cannot be expressed as a common fraction. It has an infinite or endless decimal representation, without any repeating pattern.
To date Pi has been calculated out to 31,400,000,000,000 (31.4 trillion) decimal places. And, given the nature of Infinity, 31.4 trillion is no closer to the answer than is 2. That’s because any number divided by Infinity, no matter how large, is equal to exactly zero.
Thus, human beings can never know the exact area of a circle. In our practical world that’s not a real problem. But this situation can teach us humility given that something seemingly so simple has a characteristic that is utterly unknowable. Perhaps we should consider this when proposing solutions to problems far more complex and intractable.