'Mathematical Magic' Lecture

'Mathematical Magic' Lecture

 Year 10 pupils attend lecture on Mathematical Magic by Ben Sparks from the University of Bath

A report by Mr Alex Page, teacher of Mathematics

With Mathematics at the heart of all human endeavour, there should be no surprise that its applications extend to deception, hoodwinkery and magic.

Last week, a group of pupils from our accelerated Year 10 divisions learnt the extent of this in a lecture on Mathematical Magic by Ben Sparks (University of Bath) at RGS Guildford. 

As part of an enrichment programme for the most able students in the area, they heard about the mathematical structure of a number of tricks and illusions. These included an example of how to convince an audience that you have memorised every single word in a hardback book and mind control exercise in which you could use mathematics to ‘hypnotise’ people into imagining an orange kangaroo in Denmark.  

We returned to Charterhouse with a minibus filled with lively chatter. The pupils had learnt shortcuts for calculating cube roots and been introduced to the concepts of number theory. They were keen to hone these skills and test each other, hoping to use this knowledge to bamboozle their friends with mathemagic.