Manual Mathematical Card Magic : Fifty-Two New Effects

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Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects

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Average rating: 0 out of 5 stars, based on 0 reviews Write a review. Colm Mulcahy. Suitable for recreational math buffs and amateur card lovers or as a text in a first-year seminar, this color book offers a diverse collection of new mathemagic principles and effects.

The author begins with simple card tricks and continues with more complex ones.

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Each one is illustrated with pictures and detailed explanations throughout the book. However, the aim is not to teach the reader how to do the tricks in front of an audience, but instead to teach the reader why these tricks work the way they do. The necessary combinatorial and mathematical notions are explained and proofs or solution to each presented card trick are always provided. Whenever applicable, the history of each card trick is presented. In total, 52 card tricks are featured, including several created by the author.

The presentation of the mathematical background at the beginning of each trick, which is then translated into a card magic trick, also demonstrates how new card tricks can be created. This high-quality, full-color edition concludes with a very useful bibliography and index. Mulcahy has a conversational tone throughout. However, by no means is there a loss of rigor, as he proves many of the principles that he uses. In fact, this book would make an excellent addition to any math club library, and it would provide a fun way to introduce important mathematical concepts.

The mathematics is presented clearly enough for even the novice mathematician to follow.

Martin Gardner 101

At the same time, the card tricks are explained thoroughly enough for even a novice magician to perform. This book will bring out the mathemagician in every reader. I am not a magician, nor am I an aspiring magician, but I enjoyed this book nonetheless. What I liked best was taking a peek behind the scenes of the card trick setup.


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I liked the way the book is organized. Every trick is scored on the sophistication of the underlying mathematics, how entertaining the trick is for the lay audience, how much setup is required, and how hard the trick is to perform. The author is clearly a seasoned pro. He is a skilled mathematician and an expert magician.

He also has an easygoing way of explaining clever card tricks, combined with careful diagrams so that the reader can master every trick. The apprentice magician will have a lot to practice on but even the professional magician will find many things to think about while mastering this wonderful calculus of the card deck. It's clever, instructive, and clear. Learn some tricks.

The Aperiodical

Learn some math. Impress your friends. By reading this book, the reader will be well rewarded in both disciplines. He's a skilled teacher and creator, and with his book in hand you'll be able to construct lots of new effects. A must for your magic library. Mulcahy has left one mystery for his readers to solve: Is it a really good math book, using card tricks to explain the math, or is it a really good magic book, using math to explain the magic?

Either way, there's not a wrong answer to this question. You'll meet the above-mentioned people, plus many other worthwhile thinkers, in the book that you are about to read.

Colm Mulcahy has joined those ranks. His bi-monthly Card Colm has appeared on the website of the Mathematical Association of America since If you have been a Card Colm reader, you already know the quality of his imaginative output. There are many of them, and most are believed to be original in their application to card magic.

In many cases, the order of the suits is important. And there are many other mnemotechnical tricks to recall certain orders of cards or operations. These witty namings and word plays make the text fun to read. Since Mulcahy stresses at many places that the mathemagician should not reveal the mathematics underlying the magic, so neither will I uncover them here in this review. Unless the audience is really interested in the mathematics, it is unwise to explain what is going on. It is just mathematics', will kill all the magic.

It is absolutely rewarding however to convince young people that mathematics is everywhere and can be fun to play with. So it is perfectly all right if a teacher explains the mathematics to his pupils. In most cases, the mathematics are not that advanced. Just counting will do, but it is not just plain combinatorics or modulo calculus. The fact that there are 13 different faces and 4 different suits make the counting special. Fibonacci numbers sometimes play a role, occasionally there is some probability involved.