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Profile of Liszt
I'm preparing a show for 2 years. The first part will contain some lightning calculations display:
Calendar feat
Extract square root of ANY 4 digit number (with remainder)
Extract cube root of ANY 6 digit number (with remainder)
Extract 6th root of 12 digit number (whole root)
Extract 5th root of up to 18 digit numbers (whole root)
Extract square root of a 12 digit number (whole 6 digits root)
Square of any 6, 7 and 8 digit number

Any spectator gives a digit between 1 and 10 (7 for instance). Another spectator gives any number between 1 and 32 (27 for example). I have to give 7 to the power of 27 in seconds.

Yes only memory for this last one!!! And at the end of this part of the show, I recite all the results since the first one (200 or 300 digits).

All that relies on heavy memory work (without any mnemotechnics or any system because I need the result instantly, mnemotechnics demands time to recall all the numbers).

Here are the problems for which I need your help:

First of all, I have many books on calculation but none of them discuss the intricate mechanisms of extracting 6th or 8th roots of 20 or more digit numbers for instance. Any reference? My method for extracting the square root of a 12 digit number is long and deals with dichotomy (it takes me at times more than 3 minutes, an eternity in front of an andience!!). Any help?

Moreover, I've made a test at Christmas—it was impressive but boring. Could you tell me if books or videotapes deal with tips and ideas on this type of work to turn a mathematic display into a commercial showpiece? It's not like card tricks, it's more difficult because it is near impossible to do another thing while calculating very intricate results.

Many thanks for your answers
Gregg Tobo
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Profile of Gregg Tobo

You may find Arthur Benjamin's book "Mathemagics: How to Look Like a Genius Without Really Trying" (by A. Benjamin and M. Shermer) of interest. The book is currently out of print, but can be found on remainder shelves or through a used-book dealer.

I believe it's in the preface that we are given a short description of Mr. Benjamin's performance of rapid math before an audience of college students. He does not do the "heavy lifting" you are proposing, but it may give you an idea of how to create a commercial performance.

Gregg Tobo
Larry Barnowsky
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Profile of Larry Barnowsky
Mathieu, I'm sorry to have to tell you that most people find math very boring and the last thing they want as entertainment would be a display of number mental crunching. On the other hand people find other people very intersting. That's partly why Harry Lorayne has been successful as a performer. As a former Math grad student I feel bad that others are not amazed by math feats. But the reality is, if you perform this memory math stunt as described it will have to be for a niche audience.
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Profile of Agamenon
I do not believe people hate or do not.
Scott Cram
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It's not the difficulty of the calculations that's going to make this entertaining or not. It's how you present it.

With one routine, you could do a "Walter Mitty" presentation - where you're fighting against some sort of unpopular authority figure, in this case a math teacher would be great. You could show how you outwitted your high school math teacher using your skills.

What about doing one of the routines against a clock, to help build suspense in one routine?

Also, what about a routine where an audience member actually or apparently does some quick calculation?

There's a few books I would read before putting this type of act together (click highlighted titles for links):

1) Maximum Entertainment

2) Art and Magic

3) Mathemagics Video - Since Arthur Benjamin's book is so hard to find, you might have better luck with this video. You will also be able to see exactly how he performs

For some inspiration on how to develop a character who does math well, and can also relate to people, here's a few places to start:

1) Rain Man

2) The Man Who Counted

3) The Man Who Loved Only Numbers

4) The Number Devil

Lastly, for more and varied number stunts to use, here's a few links for you:

1) BEATCALC: Beat the Calculator!

1) Oleg Stepanov's Mnemonics and Lightning Calculator Articles

1) Be A Genius* (*...or, just look like one)

1) Doug Canning's "Mental Shopper"
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Profile of owen.daniel
I'm afraid I share larry's view.
I used to be a big fan of mathemagic, but recently have gone of performing it (although I still learn it for personal interests) because of a lack of audience reaction.
Now I am limited to using only a 5X5 magic square as a starter for my routine.
Maybe try finding some tricks which use maths as a method but not as the feature (although I understand that your routine really was supposed to be showing of your maths ability). One such example would be to perform Apex, a routine which harry Lorayne popularised and printed in a book (i've forgotten the name but if you look in the forum of his visit I posted a topic on it where he replie with the title of the book)...possibly personal collection???...but I learned it from Martin Gardners book for mathematicians "Mathematical Carnival" (this is the only magic trick taught, yet it also contains a chapter on the maths of the Faro shuffle, might be useful for some). The routine uses Pascals Triangle, to make a prediction of what card will be at the top of a triangle.

I suppose one possible solution to how you can incorporate a short maths demonstration would be to do the magic square and then say something along the lines of "This was not a display of sleight of hand, trickery etc..But it required solely on Mathematical ability...Some may think I am not capable of such a thing, but let me prove it to you. Sir would you mind naming any 8 digit number...Ok the square of it is... YOu don't believe me? Why don't you check" etc. etc.
This way not only have you incorporated one amazing example of mathematical skill, but you have also (depending on which magic square you perform and how difficult the method is) made the audience believe that you are capable of mathematical skill with the magic square!
Hope this supplies some insperation,
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Profile of GALIER
With respect to doing mathematical tricks in a stage, I think the golden rule is "Don't abuse of them."
You can entertain a lot if you are able to build a four times four square magic with any number selected by a spectator. But it will be better if you obtain with it more than 20 combinations of numbers which sum is the same. Very important: don't hesitate, do the sums more quickly each time. People really gets astonished.

This supermagic square is not too much known.

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Profile of MichelAsselin
I think that it can be quite exciting on a number of levels. ¬Best of luck.
" , ? ; !!! "
- Marcel Marceau, Feb 30, 1945.
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Profile of MAGICADZ
I use many Mathematical tricks and find them a great impromptu way of performance. I think the key is variety. There are many different effects like "beat the calculator, guess your age, human calender or even memory tests which all involve mathematical principles. Im not a magic square fan myself but I do appreciate the method involved. I find that predictions invoving answers to sums are often greeted with amazment. Karl Fulves did a belting number magic book which is still on the market.

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Profile of Partizan
Best math magic is when you take numbers from the specs and do math with them Smile
Like long multiplication/division done fast, with a spec on a calc checking your results. Anything too technical will loose them. I know you love math, but some people relate it to bad school days.
I taught myself the arts of math out of sheer interest. I was about 23 when I got into math, hated it at school but could do it (into computers at 11). but I found out how bad the education was when I taught myself. I learnt more in 2 weeks than my whole school life.

The best math for laymen is fast punchy flourishes of brilliance. If they think you were a child prodigy gone wrong they would be much more interested. They would get glimpses of a brilliance within. They don't want to see you work it out. They want the answer, and NOW!

We have a game show in the UK - Countdown.
here is the numbers round described....

Next comes "The Numbers Game", where a contestant starts by choosing six cards. Face down and available for selection are four cards containing big numbers (100, 75, 50 and 25) and 20 cards containing smaller numbers (two sets of 1 to 10). Players can pick any combination of these, e.g. two big numbers and four small numbers. They can also specify precise cards or the rows cards are to be picked from.

Both contestants are then shown the selected cards and the target between 101 and 999 is generated for the players to aim for. The idea then is to get as close to the target within 30 seconds using the selected numbers and the basic mathematical symbols of plus, minus, divide, multiply and brackets. No number can be used more than once.
The co-host Carol Vorderman can solve these number puzzles very quickly and with a very good accuracy. This has made her FAMOUS for doing math on TV (oh! and she is gorgeous)
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
- Mark Twain
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Profile of MAGICADZ
Its a shame you have to put up with Richard Whitely for the remainder of the show. If you want a first class example of an opticle illusion then just look at those ties he wears. Totally agree with the comments, its often a difficult thing to keep audience attention when doing maths.

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Profile of Kenardo1
When presented properly mathmagic can be very entertaining. Arthur Benjamin "kills" his audience with his human calculator act, and Harry Lorayne has his audience in his hands when he does the magic square.
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Profile of bobmcmathman
I've found mathematical magic to be useful primarily in an impromptu setting- I perform most magic in the emergency room, after treating a patient, or while waiting for results, etc. Many are kids, and if you ask them their favorite course in school- when they reply 'math'- you have some great topical effects to show them.
Harry Lorayne
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Pick up MATHEMATICAL WIZARDRY - some of the stuff in there will literally blow you, and you audiences, away. HARRY LORAYNE.
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Profile of stanalger
"Literally" blow my audiences away?
I certainly wouldn't want to do that!!!
Scott Cram
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Profile of Scott Cram
Mathematical Wizardry is a good book, nonetheless! You can read my review of it here.

(There are some parts that are too good, as a matter of fact, as you'll see in my review.)
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