I had a friend who used to always do the whole “Pick a card, any card” charade and flip through every card until he got to the right one, at which he point he flamboyantly touted “I knew it all along!” Maybe if he took this freshman seminar course here at Princeton, he would have actually known it all along.
A freshman seminar course “The Mathematics of Magic Tricks and Games” teaches its students the magic behind tricks like the one my friend so desperately tried to get right. Students learn the mathematical principles behind games and magic tricks in this class giving math a fun and engaging application. Princeton mathematics professor Manjul Bhargava employs Magical Mathematics: The Mathematical Ideas That Animate Great Magic Tricks to teach his students how to do fun magic tricks.
Bhargava actually studied with Persi Diaconis who is one of the co-authors of the book and is also a professor of mathematics and professional magician. Bhargava’s course is designed to show freshman students the creative and artistic side of mathematics that they would probably not see in any of their past high school geometry or calculus classes.
Magical Mathematics can teach you some tricks that Bhargava teaches in his classes. Not only will you enjoy doing math, but it will make also give you fun tricks to show your friends.
Also, if you’re interested in this book, you may also be interested in The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science which gives various fun and astounding backyard science experiments.