Magic and Mathematics


in Geek stuff, Rants, Science

A book of magic tricks that I owned in elementary school included a number of ‘tricks’ that worked because of the properties of the Mobius Strip. I realize now what an insult they were to geometry. Yes, it may seem amazing that you can draw a line all the way around or cut a Mobius strip along its centre and have it turn into a larger loop, but to attribute these things to ‘magic’ is absurdly anti-educational. You might as talk about how the angles in a triangle ‘magically’ add up to 180 degrees.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan March 5, 2006 at 12:26 pm

Of course, all magic tricks are based on obfuscation and concealment of particular knowledge on the part of the magician. To chide them for misrepresentation really misses the point.

Anonymous March 5, 2006 at 4:48 pm

What an odd thing to think about.

Anonymous March 5, 2006 at 5:02 pm

All matters mathematical are best addressed through limericks:

“A mathematician named Klein,
Thought the Möbius band was divine,
He said, “If you glue,
The edges of two, You’ll get a weird bottle like mine.”

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