Christian Long

Arthur Benjamin: Does Mathemagic

In TED Talks on April 15, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Reflection by KATHERINE H.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Arthur Benjamin:  Does Mathemagic

Ever since I was a child I have had a love for math, most people would ask why as if I were crazy.

The reason is there is always an answer, some formula, or methodical way to complete it. There may be one, many or no answer at all, but never the lack of an universal explanation. Math answers are not opinions, they are facts.

Ever thought of putting a word to symbolize a series of numbers to solve a complex math problem?

You may think of a simple problem using one and two digit numbers, but this is only the beginning of Arthur Benjamin’s tricks. Arthur Benjamin proves that our brains will allow us the capacity to not only form words with definitions but actually allow us to pair words with complex numbers to operate mathematically. Truthfully I don’t think this could be anything close to an easy process, though Arthur Benjamin makes the process look extremely easy as he operates flawlessly every time. It was interesting to me to just be given the information that most calculators will square a number if you press the number, times, then equals.

Arthur Benjamin became even more impressive when he began squaring three and four digit numbers in his head, and ‘impressive’ being a modest word to use.

I have to confess that I don’t believe I’d even be able to remember all those numbers and places, let alone words to pair with the numbers. As his closing trick, Arthur attempts an even higher possibility for confusion; to guess part of the product of a four digit number times an unknown three digit number chosen by the audience. His final act is to square a six digit number, he reveals his secret; to break the number down into some sort of a formulaic system. With modesty, he explains to the crowd the difficulty and probability of a false answer, which is completely understandable. To excel so greatly in such a complicated skill, Arthur still possesses modesty and does not become overly audacious in his tricks, or formula rather. He completes his act with glowing confidence and no problems whatsoever. Arthur charms the audience with his quirky personality and just enough geekiness.

Arthur Benjamin not only shows confidence, intellectuality, and effort but also determination to finish each square efficiently without losing his train of thought.


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