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Maths and Magic -

Magician Jolyon Jenkins sets himself the challenge of learning a maths-based trick that can not only fool working mathematicians, but seems genuinely magical.

Maths and magic go back a long way - the oldest written card trick was by Luca Pacioli, a friend of Leonardo, and appears in a treatise which also contains the first account of double entry book keeping. Many tricks in the working magician's repertoire rely on maths.

But this is surprising. Maths is about logic, magic is about illusion. How can it be possible to fool someone with logic? What does it tell us about the way our minds work? Can things seem magical just because we don't understand them?

Magician Jolyon Jenkins investigates the link between these two apparently disparate worlds. He learns of the simple algebra-based trick that repeatedly fooled Albert Einstein. And he sets himself the challenge of learning a maths-based trick that can not only fool working mathematicians, but seems genuinely magical. It culminates in a public performance in front of a group of mathematicians at the MathsJam festival.

Presenter/producer: Jolyon Jenkins.

  • Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 11:00AM Fri, 20 Dec 2013
  • Available until 12:00AM Thu, 1 Jan 2099
  • First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 11:00AM Fri, 20 Dec 2013
  • Categories
  • Duration 28 minutes

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