Magic numbers

Maths Inspiration aims to show teenagers how much fun it can be – as well as a valuable tool for the future. Victoria Neumark reports

Rob Eastaway grins at his teenage audience. “Here’s how to win a bet at the pub – if you’re allowed in, of course.” Giggles and murmurs as he rattles through demonstrations of card shuffles, newspaper predictions, coin tricks and the likelihood of people lying. “It’s maths masquerading as magic,” he explains, going on to debunk TV magician Darren Brown’s “psychology” as cheapjack probability.

The audience is gripped, texting quick tips to friends on silenced mobiles as they marvel at the Gilbreath shuffle (a way to ensure that a stacked deck stays stacked), Benford’s Law (which predicts that in most sets of numbers those beginning with 1 have a 30% greater likelihood of appearing than others, and Penney Ante (a coin-flipping con-trick described by Walter Penney in 1969).

Full article on The Guardian