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Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects Hardcover – 30 Aug 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: A K Peters/CRC Press; 1 edition (30 Aug 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1466509767
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466509764
  • Product Dimensions: 25.7 x 18.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 160,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"This book is a well-written window into the mathematics behind 52 new card tricks as well as an introduction to performing such tricks. The mathematics is presented clearly enough for even the novice mathematician to follow. 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. … a must read for anyone looking for ways to get students of all ages interested in mathematics."
—Brittany Shelton, Mathematical Reviews, April 2014

"Mathematical Card Magic is a great reference for aspiring magicians who are curious about the mathematics behind card tricks. 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. … most tricks are a combination of careful dealing, careful shuffling, an astute memory, distracting the audience, and mathematics. 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."
—Kara Shane Colley, MAA Reviews, November 2013

"Printed on glossy paper with many colour illustrations, it is not only fun, but also a pleasure to read. 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."
—A. Bultheel, KU Leuven, The European Mathematical Society, November 2013

"Reading Colm Mulcahy’s book on mathematical card tricks is a lot of fun. It's clever, instructive, and clear. Learn some tricks. Learn some math. Impress your friends."
—John Allen Paulos, Mathematician and Author of Innumeracy, A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, and other books

"Mathematical Card Magic is filled with many original ideas that will keep mathematicians and magicians busy for a very long time."
—Arthur Benjamin, Harvey Mudd College, and author of Secrets of Mental Math: The Mathemagician’s Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks

"Colm Mulcahy has produced a stimulating collection of novel card magic tricks that not only form a wonderful introduction to important ideas in combinatorics but also contain some very nifty magic effects as well. By reading this book, the reader will be well rewarded in both disciplines."
—Ronald Graham, University of California, San Diego, and co-author of Magical Mathematics

"Colm has invented many important and practical mathematical principles and tailor-made them for card magic. 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."
—Lennart Green, 1991 World Champion in Card Magic, Sweden

"This is an amazing volume! Prof. 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."
—S. Brent Morris, PhD, author of Magic Tricks, Card Shuffling, and Dynamic Computer Memories

"In the early 1900s there began a new blossoming of mathematical magic, via such brilliant inventors as Charles T. Jordan, Stewart James, Robert Hummer and Martin Gardner. 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 2004 … If you have been a Card Colm reader, you already know the quality of his imaginative output. You will find much of the best material from that column here in this collection, revised and improved. You will also encounter a wide variety of previously unreleased material, with some lovely surprises."
—From the Foreword by Max Maven, Magician and Mentalist

"… fantastic [book]! There are so many principles and ideas in it that it is one of those rare books that I will continually look through, study, and use as a reference for as long as I do card magic (which means the rest of my life)."
—Mark Setteducati

"In this delightful book, the author of the bi-monthly online articles Card Colm for the Mathematical Association of America shows just how magical mathematics can be. The mathematics ranges from simple to deep and the magical effects range from subtle to stunning. Most of the mathematical principles underlying the effects are original, and many are appearing in print for the first time in this book. I’m looking forward to using this material to intrigue and inspire young people to learn both mathematics and magic!"
—Neil Calkin, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Clemson University

"This is an amazing book! Like a magician’s well-stacked deck of playing cards, the 13 chapters are packed with 52 punchy effects guaranteed to amaze and amuse. Each chapter deals generously with mathematicians and professional magicians alike. Bursting with new effects, the chapters detail the method and Colm’s favoured presentation—each is ‘pick up and use’ perfect—but also provide a springboard for readers’ imagination to create their own presentations. Those with a more mathematical interest won’t be disappointed either; reading further into each chapter is a fascinating exploration of the mathematical questions underlying the effects. This is a magic book that will get you thinking and entertaining in equal amounts, in essence a perfect shuffle."
—Peter W. McOwan, Vice Principal Public Engagement and External Partnerships, Queen Mary, University of London

"Colm not only provides lucid exposition of how certain mathematical principles work, but he also clearly describes subtle performance pieces that entertainingly illustrate them. Then, to boot, he drills down as to why they work. In other words, he gives you the ‘body’ of everything, plus its ‘x-ray.’ Highly recommended."
—Jon Racherbaumer, Preposterist and Author

"In his book Mathematical Card Magic, Colm Mulcahy, PhD '85, shows that performing card tricks can be as easy as pi. Through visuals, detailed instructions, and a few math lessons, the Spelman College professor explains the mathematical basis of various card tricks, teaching readers to become so-called ‘mathemagicians.’"
—Lyndsay Isaksen, Cornell Alumni Magazine, January/February 2014

About the Author

Colm Mulcahy is a professor of mathematics at Spelman College. Over the last decade, he has been at the forefront of publishing new "mathemagical" principles and effects for cards, particularly in his long-running bi-monthly Card Colm for the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). He also blogs at the Aperiodical and the Huffington Post. Dr. Mulcahy has been a recipient of the MAA’s Allendoerfer Award for excellence in expository writing. His interests are broad, ranging from algebra and number theory to geometry. He earned a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in mathematical science from University College Dublin and a PhD from Cornell University for research in the algebraic theory of quadratic forms.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KtP on 4 Dec 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My brother in law loves this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Mathmatics and Magic - What's Not to Like? 8 Oct 2013
By Richard W. Cook - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great examples of using math to perform seemingly magical tricks - all the while exposing you to the fundamental properties of mathematics. This isn't the first book that explains the math behind certain 'magic' tricks, but it does include some new methods developed by the author and is one of the most accessible and easy to digest.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Mathematics and Magic 16 Sep 2013
By Raketemensch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are interesting parallels between mathematics and conjurors' magic. Both are realms of wizardry and - appropriately for realms of wizardry - both produce writings that are difficult to read. Often even excellent math students gain most of their technique from the live demonstrations of teachers and fellow students. Similarly, for magicians there is nothing like being let in on a secret by another magician, since magic "moves" are often so subtle that they are difficult to describe in words, even when those words are helped along by well-drawn diagrams. Learning to read math books or magic books with good understanding is worth a lot of effort, a big step from sorcerer's apprentice towards fully proficient sorcerer.

We might also say that mathematics and magic share keen insights into human nature. Magic understands what people will find plausible without detailed examination. A magic trick proceeds almost like a mathematical proof. A series of simple steps, each beckoning the assent of the viewer, leads inexorably to an astounding conclusion. Mathematics also understands what people will find plausible, but in this case what they will find plausible even with the most detailed examination. A mathematical proof is like a magic trick in which the viewer is allowed to ask as many questions and perform as many examinations as she might desire, a series of simple steps again leading to an astounding conclusion.

Magic sometimes takes advantage of mathematics. The patterns hidden in even simple mathematical systems can be disclosed to make magicians' miracles. This book by Colm Mulcahy presents a brilliant collection of newly invented card tricks that simultaneously leverage mathematical theorems and magical principles, transporting the reader into a Gardnerian, Nabokovian space of festive delight.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This book will become a classic 1 Nov 2013
By BR - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Colm Mulcahy writes clearly and elegantly about card tricks based on mathematical principles. Of great interest to practicing magicians or math teachers from high school on up who want to find interesting enrichment material.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Nice addition 25 Feb 2014
By William M. Rosenblum - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
More card tricks for my collection of magic effects. As stated in the introduction these are not great card tricks
but interesting principles
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Book 10 Oct 2013
By A. Math Professor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to confess that I know Colm Mulcahy. But, it's because he's fun and exciting that we are friends and thus I write a good review, not the other way around. Colm has a way of making these ideas fun and tantalizing, while bringing mathematics into the discussion. If you are looking for a way to make mathematics exciting for someone who loves magic, or if you enjoy mathematics and want to see how some magic tricks work based math, then buy the book!
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