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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magical equations » » Magic in Martin Gardner's Recreational Math Books (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

airship
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Martin Gardner was not only a noted magician, he was even more well-known as a mathematician. His 'Mathematical Recreations' column in Scientific American was a must-read for me back in the day, and an added draw was that the subject of magic often intruded into his column.

The Mathematical Recreations columns were all (I believe) collected into books, which were marketed as 'recreational math' books. A search on any book dealer's web site will bring up a slew of them: http://tinyurl.com/fuhza

While there probably isn't enough magic in the pages of any single one of Gardner's math books to entice a magician to buy one, I thought it would be fruitful to point out some of the magical tidbits that appear in them. If nothing else, you could always check out a copy from your library.

I'll start with the book 'The Unexpected Hanging and Other Mathematical Diversions'. (I'm sure I have at least one or two others around here somewhere, and when I find them I'll do the same for them.)

In Chapter Six, 'The Church of the Fourth Dimension', Gardner reveals two different methods for making linked rubber bands, including magician Fitch Cheney's method of cutting a set from a rubber torus. (Which sounds much easier than the 'machining a rubber ring' method!)

Chapter Thirteen is titled 'Chicago Magic Convention', and includes a diagram for creating a set of tumble rings from a bunch of dimestore keyrings; a description of a Fitch Cheney effect involving a knotted silk being released from a rope held by two spectators; Mel Stover's explanation of using a binary number system to reveal a chosen card in a packet trick; and a Victor Eigen effect in which a spectator freely takes five cards of their choice from the deck, chooses and keeps one, and delivers the other four in an order specified by the magician to an assistant in another room, who reveals the selected card.

Chapter Fourteen, 'Tests of Divisibility' reveals the secret of mentally determining the divisibility of large numbers by any number from 2 to 12, including the devlishly difficult number 7. A card trick is explained that uses these tests.

Chapter Seventeen, 'A Loop of String' discusses various tricks done with a six foot loop of cord. Included are a finger loop release; a ring release; a scissors release; and a short discussion of string figures (like the cat's cradle).

I hope you find this to be useful, and I encourage anyone else who owns any of Gardner's recreational math books to contribute similar guides to this thread.

By the way, there is an online index of the 15 books that collect Gardner's 'Mathematical Recreations' columns. However it is, to me, too concise to be of much use in this context. Still, it does list all the books in the series. It's at: http://www.ms.uky.edu/~lee/ma502/gardner5/gardner5.html
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
stanalger
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Quote:
On 2006-05-09 17:44, airship wrote:

Chapter Thirteen is titled 'Chicago Magic Convention', and includes...a Victor Eigen effect in which a spectator freely takes five cards of their choice from the deck, chooses and keeps one, and delivers the other four in an order specified by the magician to an assistant in another room, who reveals the selected card.



Victor Eigen is a fictional character created by Martin Gardner. If you've
ever studied linear algebra, you might realize that the name was derived
from "eigenvector."

And here's a great way to acquire all of the "Mathematical Games"
anthologies on a CD:
https://enterprise.maa.org/ecomtpro/Tims......ucts.cfm
stanalger
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airship
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Eigenvector. *groan* I feel so stupid that I didn't see that. My excuse is that I was focused on the task at hand. Smile
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
Psy-Kosh
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Eigen feel your pain. The pun was victor-ious against you.
JayF
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I'm interested in the "Victor Eigen is a fictional character" issue. How do you know this? Did someone tell you this? Is there a published source for this idea?
saxonia
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Martin Gardner wrote in a review for the "New York Times" (20 August 1972) which was re-printed in "Pallbearers Review" November 1973:

"...is described in "New Mathematical Diversions from Scientific American" (Simon&Schuster 1966), where it is credited to Victor Eigen. The name is a play on the phrase "eigen vector".
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