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Topic: Maths magic ideas
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Jan 9, 2016 05:28PM)
As the last thread on this topic was derailed, I thought I would share my thoughts on maths magic here, with a fresh start.

Last year I attended a lecture by Arthur Benjamin. He began with a wonderful thirty minute demonstration that was vastly entertaining, even to a non-mathematical audience. Then he explained many of the methods. He has a book, Secrets of Mental Math, that I can highly recommend. He also has a six part DVD series, which I bought on the strength of his lecture but haven't seen yet owning to not owning a DVD player!

One effect he did that I loved was have people throw him two digit numbers and multiplying them in his head quicker than a volunteer with a calculator. It takes a lot of work, so I came up with an easier alternative. I have a pile of raffle tickets and I allow someone to reach into a bag and withdraw two, which I then multiply instantly in my head. Needless to say I use a change bag.

If you can make it entertaining it is hard to beat the Magic Square. It is easy to do too. John Archer explains an easy method in one of his DVDs. There are several other sources for it.

The calendar trick is also a good one - someone names a date, you tell them the day. It involves a bit of memory work, but can be impressive. In school assemblies many kids won't know the days for significant dates, but they will have smart phones and can google them then test you.

Finally, memory demonstrations fit in well with a maths program. Larry Becker has a method where you can appear to memorise many random numbers thrown at you. Or you could use the techniques in any standard memory book to actually memorise the numbers.

Here is Arthur Benjamin in action: https://youtu.be/e4PTvXtz4GM

And here is a short piece I put together for a pub cabaret on numbers: https://youtu.be/UKCItmqv5iI?
Message: Posted by: Paul Clifford (Jan 10, 2016 08:54AM)
Thanks for this retry. I posted a few of my own suggestions in the midst of the previous thread which soon got buried! I am really interested in any new ideas others have had.

I am a maths teacher so for me this is a brilliant way to use my hobby to make maths exciting and interesting. I feel I cannot go wrong because if a student goes away and works it all out (like I would have done when I was a school kid) I have really engaged them in the magic of maths. Otherwise I have brightened up an assembly by showing students some neat stuff they often remember years later.

As I said before and with agreement above, the Magic Square is great thing to do. I have, over the years, found various ways to use the Matrix Force and there are lots of other cool number stunts in the literature often depending on casting out 9s. Marc Paul's Human Equation drops jaws.

I find it is powerful to add pure maths stuff which can be just as amazing. Mobius bands are an obvious choice but there are lots of mathematical results which are really surprising. Alongside these, tricks (where I cheat) can often allow me to discuss how to work out the probability of winning the lottery or some geometry on the back of a paper tear.

I know I have basically repeated the thoughts in my previous post but maybe this will support a better sharing of ideas on this topic.

Message: Posted by: MoonRazor (Jan 10, 2016 10:06AM)
Yeah that guy is great
Message: Posted by: magicfish (Jan 10, 2016 10:22AM)
Hi, Paul, apart from the fantastic texts by Lorayne, I've derived much enjoyment from some other books on the topic.
I'd like to recommend Mathematical Magic Show by Martin Gardner and Mathematical Circus also by Gardner. These two books are simply incredible.
Another fascinating source is Tricks and Amusements with Coins, Cards, String, Paper and Matches by R.M. Abraham. This one is a wonderful collection of diversions and pastimes- many of them math based- but not all. Its a delightful mix.
Message: Posted by: arthur stead (Jan 10, 2016 02:10PM)
Another good source for material is Mathematical Magic by Persi Diaconis and Ron Graham. And of course Self-Working Number Magic by Karl Fulves.

Unfortunately.,for me personally, I'm not good with numbers, so I long ago gave up the idea of developing a math-based show.