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Distractions and amusements, with a sandwich and coffee.

Drive, driven. Gave, given.
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• Give me a number of games.
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They serve as the form for The Outbreak Poems.

On March 14th celebrate `\pi` Day. Hug `\pi`—find a way to do it.

For those who favour `\tau=2\pi` will have to postpone celebrations until July 26th. That's what you get for thinking that `\pi` is wrong. I sympathize with this position and have `\tau` day art too!

If you're not into details, you may opt to party on July 22nd, which is `\pi` approximation day (`\pi` ≈ 22/7). It's 20% more accurate that the official `\pi` day!

Finally, if you believe that `\pi = 3`, you should read why `\pi` is not equal to 3.

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Little `\pi`,

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what

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can you tell us?

Welcome to this year's celebration of `\pi` and mathematics. Among the chaos of CORVID-19, this year `\pi` Day celebrations are short poetic emissions I call “piku” . They are brief pauses for the time.

Start by reading how piku are constructed and then browse submitted piku. Consider participating by submitting your own piku. All you need is a pen and a few (small) words. Very therapeutic.

But if the words here don't help, immerse yourself in my coronavirus art. It's quite catching.

If you enjoy poetry and words, see how I convert spam into poems in the style of ee cummings and if you like to see words arrange on page, look through my typographic art.

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Piku are

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brief

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pauses just in

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time.

You may know the haiku (俳句) as a short three line poem whose lines traditionally have 5, 7 and 5 syllables (specifically, morae or phonetic sounds).

On a recent trip to Japan I was looking to my environment for inspiration for this year's `\pi` Day. I also really wanted a scheme that would allow people to contribute to the art so that everyone could be both a participant and an audience.

After scribbling for a little bit (or a long while), I came up with the idea of a piku (`\pi`ku, パイク). Analogously to a haiku, the piku is poem whose structure is constrained. But in this case, the constraints are the digits of `\pi` itself.

The simplest piku is a 3 phrase poem with 3, 1 and 4 syllables, respectively. Perhaps the most trivial piku is just the list of digits.

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Three one four

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One

4
Five nine two six.

Specifically, Haiku count the number of phonetic sounds which isn't always the same as syllables. For example, the word "any" has two such sounds: a-ny.

If you're interested in how the counting of sounds is done in Japanese, read about marking time and beats in Haiku.

But a more fun one would be

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A Three and

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A

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One and a four.

Longer words can be used, of course. But watch out for the lines that require a single syllable.

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Numbers are

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all

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Equally fun.

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Land meets sky.

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Oh,

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It's you again!

You can use hyphenation to work around the syllable count.

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Memories

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for-

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get yourself then.

Piku is singulare tantum—its plural form is the same as its singular.

This is because its inspiration is the haiku and in Japanese nouns do not have different singular and plural forms,

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Piku is

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the

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piku plural.

In general, a piku may have more than 3 lines. This reflects the fact that the digits of `\pi` do not terminate.

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Land meets sky.

1
Oh,

4
It's you again!

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Yes,

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Who did you expect?

The endless piku is just waiting to be written. Well... started, at least.

The digit zero is a line with no syllables and corresponds to a compulsory verse break. But because the first zero in `\pi` is at digit 33, you wouldn't see a verse break for a while.

Therefore, you're free to introduce a verse break anywhere in the piku (this does not use up a digit). For example,

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Hot air breeze

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cools

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much hotter things.

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F 0 0

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red

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You add the light.

Any number, `n`, has its own nku. The rules for its construction are the same: each digit generates a line with corresponding number of syllables.

For example, the haiku is an nku for `n = 575`.

The year of your birth has an nku—you might want to try composing one to reflect on your origins.

In fact, any date (e.g. DDMMYYYY) can be made into an nku. This year's `\pi` date in this format is 14032020 and here's one possible nku.

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Dust

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in space vacuum

0

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clogs alien

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machines.

0

2
Bummer.

0

The trailing zero in the number creates a verse break at the end of a poem. This can be ignored or used to generate a blank line if the poem is set with other text on the page.

*Clear, concise, legible and compelling.*

The PDF template is a poster about making posters. It provides design, typography and data visualiation tips with minimum fuss. Follow its advice until you have developed enough design sobriety and experience to know when to go your own way.

*Realistic models of epidemics account for latency, loss of immunity, births and deaths.*

We continue with our discussion about epidemic models and show how births, deaths and loss of immunity can create epidemic waves—a periodic fluctuation in the fraction of population that is infected.

This column has an interactive supplemental component (download code) that allows you to explore epidemic waves and introduces the idea of the phase plane, a compact way to understand the evolution of an epidemic over its entire course.

Bjørnstad, O.N., Shea, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2020) Points of significance: The SEIRS model for infectious disease dynamics. *Nature Methods* **17**:557–558.

Bjørnstad, O.N., Shea, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2020) Points of significance: Modeling infectious epidemics. *Nature Methods* **17**:455–456.

*Shifting soundscapes, textures and rhythmic loops produced by laboratory machines.*

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Canada's Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, Segue was commissioned to create an original composition based on audio recordings from the GSC's laboratory equipment, robots and computers—to make “music” from the noise they produce.

*Genetic sequences of the coronavirus tell story of when the virus arrived in each country and where it came from.*

Our graphic in Scientific American's Graphic Science section in the June 2020 issue shows a phylogenetic tree based on a snapshot of the data model from Nextstrain as of 31 March 2020.

Our design on the cover of Nature Cancer's April 2020 issue shows mutation spectra of patients from the POG570 cohort of 570 individuals with advanced metastatic cancer.

The cover design accompanies our report in the issue Pleasance, E., Titmuss, E., Williamson, L. et al. (2020) Pan-cancer analysis of advanced patient tumors reveals interactions between therapy and genomic landscapes. *Nat Cancer* **1**:452–468.

*Every day sadder and sadder news of its increase. In the City died this week 7496; and of them, 6102 of the plague. But it is feared that the true number of the dead this week is near 10,000 ....*

—Samuel Pepys, 1665

This month, we begin a series of columns on epidemiological models. We start with the basic SIR model, which models the spread of an infection between three groups in a population: susceptible, infected and recovered.

We discuss conditions under which an outbreak occurs, estimates of spread characteristics and the effects that mitigation can play on disease trajectories. We show the trends that arise when "flattenting the curve" by decreasing `R_0`.

This column has an interactive supplemental component (download code) that allows you to explore how the model curves change with parameters such as infectious period, basic reproduction number and vaccination level.

Bjørnstad, O.N., Shea, K., Krzywinski, M. & Altman, N. (2020) Points of significance: Modeling infectious epidemics. *Nature Methods* **17**:455–456.