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Enthusiasts Dig ‘Pi Day’

AARON R. PARSONS '02 eats his way to second place in the 'Pi Day' pie-eating contest held in the Science Cetner. The contest was a part of the arger celebration of the day, which also included a pi recitation contest.
AARON R. PARSONS '02 eats his way to second place in the 'Pi Day' pie-eating contest held in the Science Cetner. The contest was a part of the arger celebration of the day, which also included a pi recitation contest.
By Maria S. Pedroza, Contributing Writer

More than 100 math enthusiasts gathered yesterday to celebrate “Pi Day” in the Mathematics Department lounge in the Science Center.

Yesterday’s date—3/14—is the same as the first three digits of the mathematical term.

The highlight of the festivities was a pie-eating contest, in which 17 students and Faculty members raced to consume as many pounds of pie as possible in three minutes. The winner received renown and $50 from the treasury of the Harvard Math Club, which sponsored the event.

Anticipation has been building since last year’s contest. The reigning winner, Andrew W. Hartlage ’02, said he fasted for more than 36 hours, drinking only liquids to prepare for the onslaught of pie.

Though he donned the headband he wore last year, one imprinted with Chinese characters symbolizing fortune, he took fourth place this year after consuming 53/32 pounds of pie.

Hartlage was dethroned by Philip J. Matchett ’02, who ate a full two pounds of pie.

Hartlage called his defeat the combined result of “too much pressure...and lack of blueberry pie for me to consume.”

He also bemoaned the abundance of cherry pie.

“I only had cherry...I abhor cherry,” Hartlage said.

A jubilant Matchett cited his height advantage and love of baked goods as the reasons he won, though he speculated he would fare even better in a cannoli-eating contest.

Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68, a former applied math concentrator, acted as judge of the pie-eating contest.

Math Club co-sponsor Sarah E. Moss ’02 explained that the need for a judge, reflecting on last year’s dispute over how the winner should be chosen—amount of pie by weight or geometric consumption.

This year, 40 pies—including cherry, blueberry, lemon crush, strawberry rhubarb and apple—were individually measured by weight to settle any possible disputes.

Lewis also acted as judge in a pi recitation contest, where four undergraduates recited the digits of pi as far as they could. Aaron M. Tievsky ’03 was the undisputed winner, reciting pi for 126 decimal places before the astonished crowd.

Adam S. Levine ’05, sporting a t-shirt with “Got Milk? Need p!” across the front and an enumeration of pi across the back, was excited because he wanted to relive cherished moments.

“In high school, I just ate pie with friends,” he recalled of his past “pi day” celebrations.

Aaron R. Parsons ’02, who took second place in the pi recitation contest and third in the pie-eating contest wished to express his love of the mathematical ratio by telling onlookers that he knows pi so well that he “uses [his] ability to recite pi as a gauge for drunkenness.”

He added that he has only been too drunk to recite pi twice.

But the pie fun was not restricted to contest participants.

After the events, audience members dove into the pies not used for the contest.

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