Knight's Tour Controversy: The Letters

Published on Sunday, October 29, 2006 in , , , ,

Knight's TourEarlier this month, I talked about the Knight's Tour Controversy between Ricky Jay and Eric Walton.

Thanks to Scarboni, we now have a record of mail exchanged between Eric Walton and Jules Fisher, a tony-award-winning lighting designer who accompanied Ricky Jay to Eric Walton's performance.

It gets somewhat heated, but mostly remains civil. If you're interested in some behind-the scenes detail on the original story, it's worth a read.


Yet Still More Quick Snippets

Published on Thursday, October 26, 2006 in , , , , ,

Fore-date From Iron Tree SoftwareHere's a quick look around the web at items of interest to all of you in the Brain Gang:

* Iron Tree Software, whom I first referred to in this entry, is about to release Fore-date, a program that will quiz you and improve your time on the classic Day Of The Week For Any Date feat. I've had the honor of beta-testing this software, and I've found it quite versatile and vaulable.

* The Magic Blogosphere Tracker has just been updated. Yes, the update arrived later than promised, but it was well worth the wait.

* For those who enjoyed the Martin Gardner interview from the last post, here's a longer interview (PDF, opens in a new window) from the American Mathematical Society, done back in 2005.


Martin Garnder Interview

Published on Sunday, October 22, 2006 in , , , ,

Martin GardnerMartin Gardner has done more than any other single person to bring mathematics to the masses. Through numerous books, as well as his Scientific American columns, he brought an amazing volume of mathematical knowledge to light.

On the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mathematics, Magic and Mystery, Colm Mulcahy has taken the opportunity to interview Martin Gardner.

Besides behind-the-scenes information about his better known works, Martin Gardner (calling him just Martin or Mr. Gardner seems wrong) shares some wonderful anecdotes about the other magicians whose work he presented over the years. Especially interesting is the announcement of his upcoming works.

As an added bonus, Colm reprints “A Pyramid Scheme That Works”, Martin Garder's method for simply and easily arranging the Ace through 9 and King in front of an audience, so that you can spell to each of the cards, ducking one card for each letter.

This interview with the father of recreational mathematics is well worth the read!


Genii Archives Now Online

Published on Thursday, October 19, 2006 in , , , , ,

Genii MagazineAn amazing and rich resource has just been made accessible online! Over at the Genii Magazine website, you can now access the Genii Archive, containing PDF files comprising the entire run of Genii issues from September 1936 through September 1998. During these years, Genii was printed by the Larsen family, who also run the Magic Castle.

The archives are not free to access, currently ranging from US$10 for 24 hours of access to US$200 for unlimited access, but the prices are a bargain at any level! Once you gain access to the archives, you can search for items that interest you, or simply browse the issues. The first thing I noticed when perusing the archives is how the feel of Genii Magazine changed over the years. Every article, column, letter and ad is preserved in this archive.

You can also follow many of your favorite performers' rise to fame. Seeing the original versions of routines you perform today can also be enlightening, and you may even find that the original version was better!

With such a long run, Genii issues have often been mentioned as sources in numerous books, and even other magazines. The Genii archive makes looking these issues up easy and convenient. Since they're PDFs, you can also easily save them to your hard drive and access them whenever you need to. Answers to any questions about the archive can be found or posted in this thread, over in the Genii Forum.

Naturally, when I gained access, I started looking for memory-related routines. Even as hard to find as they can be, there are plenty of articles on memory over those 63 years. The most amazing piece I found was a 10-part series by Tom Harris, called “Mnemonics For Magicians”, which ran in 1959, from January through October (the articles also hint at an 11th column, but this was apparently never printed).

What else did I find in my searches through the Genii archives? I found enough memory related items that I was able to add four full pages to the MemoryEffects.pdf file (opens in a new window)! Download this file, and search through the PDF for “Genii” to see if any of the new additions interest you. If so, you have a great excuse to at least try out the US$10 24-hour pass!


TYBE at Lybrary.com!

Published on Sunday, October 15, 2006 in , , , ,

Train Your Brain and EntertainI've mentioned Lybrary.com numerous times, going back even as far as the second entry on this blog.

The news today is that Lybrary.com's Memory & Mnemonics section has a brand new addition - Train Your Brain and Entertain (TYBE)! What's the big deal about one more place to buy my memory training software?

Every magic store besides Lybrary.com, that carries TYBE, including the Grey Matters store, sells it as a CD-ROM. However, Lybrary.com is selling it as a download. Instead of waiting as many as 7-10 business days to receive the CD-ROM, you can buy it and start using it in just minutes! All the goodies are still included, including the Pi Chart, the 8400-year perpetual calendar and the PDF list of Memory Effects (click on this link to open a new window, to see today's updated list).

If you still prefer the TYBE CD-ROM, it is still available from the Grey Matters Store, and we're still featuring our Halloween sale for 3 more days!


How to Impress Sudoku Fans

Published on Thursday, October 12, 2006 in , , , ,

SudokuWerner Miller is a retired teacher of mathematics, whose hobbies are recreational mathematics and magic. His unusual and amazing approach to magic squares were mentioned in this blog in June, 2005. Now, he's turned his attention to Sudoku.

Imagine the reaction you'll get when you have someone generate a random Sudoku puzzle, which you're able to solve in less than a minute! While you're getting credit for a staggering mental feat, it's actually much easier than it would otherwise seem, thanks to Mr. Miller's Swindle Sudoku. This ingenious routine would work well as an opener, as Werner Miller puts it, “to lay the foundations for your reputation as a mental prodigy”. It's also flexible enough to work on anything from a simple blank Sudoku grid on paper, to physical Sudoku boards, such as Rubik's Sudoku or this Deluxe Sudoku Game Board.

If you like Werner Miller's way of mathematical magic, you can also check out his other original effects at Online Visions, or buy his first collection of effects in English, called Ear-Marked.


Still More Quick Snippets

Published on Sunday, October 08, 2006 in , ,

Train Your Brain and EntertainHere's a few quick announcements about the Grey Matters Site itself:

* We're having a Halloween sale at the Grey Matters Store! For any purchase of $50 or more, you'll get a $10 discount - more than twice the standard shipping cost! To get this discount, simply place an order of $50 or more by October 18, 2006 and use the coupon code HLWN2006 during checkout.

* The search function has been removed from the rightmost column, and is now featured on its own page. The new search will search all of Grey Matters, and is powered by Google to make it thorough and easy to use.

* Even though the link isn't at the top any more, our affiliate program is still running! For more information, you can check the previous link, as well as the Make Money with Grey Matters! blog entry.


100,000 Digits of Pi?

Published on Thursday, October 05, 2006 in , ,

Akira HaraguchiLast year, I mentioned Akira Haraguchi, who recited 83,431 digits of Pi from memory. He has just bested his own personal record, and may be the new world record holder for reciting the most memorized digits of Pi, if his claim is verified by Guinness World Records.

Akira Haraguchi has recited 100,000 digits of Pi from memory, and has submitted the video of his recitation to Guinness for verification. He started at 9 AM (Japan Time) on October 3rd, 2006. Passing his previous record of 83,431 digits at about 10:30 PM that night, he finished this amazing feat at 1:28 AM the following morning!

For those interested in memorizing Pi, you can start with the basics, and quickly learn 400 digits of Pi! 400 digits is, at this writing, enough to put you among the top 50 memorizers in the world, according to the Pi World Ranking List.

Do you want to set a record, but don't think you can beat 100,000 digits? Try going for a record in your city, state or country. For example, the North American Pi memorization and recitation record is “only” 10,980 digits.


Knight's Tour Controversy

Published on Sunday, October 01, 2006 in , , , ,

Chess KnightOn a blog like Grey Matters, with its focus on mental feats, it's not unreasonable to expect occasional discussion of the Knight's Tour.

What is unusual, however, is when something esoteric like the Knight's Tour becomes newsworthy! In this New York Times article, there is a discussion of two performers, Eric Walton and Ricky Jay, both of whom do the Knight's Tour in their act. While there are differences, the emphasis on esoteric history in both presentations is the source of the controversy.

An edited version of the same article is also available thanks to the Dallas Morning News.

Interestingly, both magicians are battling over the classic memorized version, which is not the only approach. In the Grey Matters Mental Gym, for example, I teach an algorithmic approach to the Knight's Tour that lets both the first and last squares be chosen. This version is so little known that even such learned people such as Professor Arthur Benjamin have written me to say that they have previously been unaware of this approach.

If you're interested in actually seeing the Knight's Tour, you can see video performances of it by Xaver Neuhausler and Gerry McCambridge over at Grey Matters Videos.