If there was ever a magical number, it is pi, the mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi appears in countless formulae in mathematics and engineering and is roughly 3.14159 though because it is an irrational number (meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating), it is forever the subject of efforts to calculate it to the most number of decimal places. Since 1995, the record has been held by supercomputers, which have progressed the record to 2577 billion decimal places. Now the record has been broken again, but this time by a desktop PC with a humble Core i7 CPU running at 2.93 GHz, with 6 GB RAM and 7.5 TB of disk storage.
Congratulations to Febrice Bellard, who set a new record of 2,699,999,990,000 decimal places in December. Febrice's web site has all the available information. The clock featured in the illustration can be purchased here for USD25, a perfect present for your favourite geek on their birthday or indeed, Pi Day, which is celebrated by maths enthusiasts around the world on March 14 each year.