What the First 10,000 Digits of Pi Sound Like Dialed on a Rotary Phone

Please hold. (And hold, and hold, and hold...)

Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson

Another day, another slice of pi. This time it's the first 10,000 digits of everyone's favorite irrational number, as expressed by the mechanical churn of a rotary phone. 

There is an aching, Sisyphean creep to it. I imagine this is what Archimedes laughing from beyond the grave sounds like—and this despite the fact that it sonifies an infinitesimally small percentage of a number that, for all we know, neither repeats nor ends. It's perhaps the most visceral entry in our unending quest to make sense of, play with, and/or test the boundaries of pi.

So while it might not be nearly as dizzying as that raw string-out of the first billion digits of pi, it's still more maddening by orders of magnitude. The longer you listen, the more unbearable it becomes. I managed to last about 10 minutes, before it got so grating I had to close the tab, and step outside to get some air. It was mocking me, burrowing deeper into my skull. 

If there is a Hell, it just might involve dialing a phone (or, listening to someone dialing a phone) for 4.5 goddamn hours. If only Indiana managed to pass that law declaring "pi = 3", we maybe wouldn't be in this mess. For now, please hold. (And hold, and hold, and hold, and hold.)