Become a math-magician with Dr Maths
Dear Dr Maths
In one of your recent columns you talked about how card tricks could be used to help children appreciate how magical maths can be. Can you suggest a good example I could show to my son, as no matter how we try to explain how useful maths will be for him, he says its boring.
There are a number of magicians who have created mathematical card tricks and would be worth checking out, such as the 20th century magicians Bob Hummer and John Scarne. A maths card trick does not involve slight of hand but works due to a hidden pattern. Here is a lovely mathematical card trick for you to try.
Start with 15 cards of which the bottom card is known. Deal out more than 7 cards into a pile and then place the remaining cards on top of that pile. Repeat this twice more using the same number. The known bottom card will always rise like cream to the top of the pile. The picture shows a mathematical proof of this without words.
This very clever card trick was invented by Colm Mulcahy and it will always work provided that the number of cards in the pack is more than twice the number of cards you deal out.
In the Mulcahy version of this card trick, the spectator is asked to call out their favourite ice-cream flavour. For example, they may say “Chocolate.” In this case the fifteen cards are dealt spelling out the word, one for each letter in the word “chocolate”. After three “scoops” or deals the bottom card rises to the top and Colm Mulcahy can then predict the card.
How does that work?
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