The Chudnovsky Brothers

It is often interesting in mathematics lessons to talk about curious characters who have done original things in mathematics. David and Gregory Chudnovsky are two brilliant brothers who will not be found in the index of most mathematics textbooks. In 1991 the brothers built a supercomputer in their apartment in Manhattan. They used mail order parts delivered in boxes, the building superintendent being unaware of what they were doing. They called their computer m-zero and claimed that it was just as powerful as a Cray supercomputer, the Cray costing $30 million and theirs $70,000. Why did they do this? Why fill their apartment with electrical leads and circuitry and raise its temperature to intolerable levels? To calculate pi. The brothers had a passion for mathematics and used their computer to calculate pi to two billion decimal places. Is it necessary to find this value to such high accuracy for everyday calculations? No. When we perform calculations our overall accuracy is determined by the least accurate number that we input. Most scientific constants are only known to at most 10 decimal places. The brothers were explorers determined to venture into new territory. It is only by pushing the limits of knowledge that new, and unexpected, discoveries, are made.