The Magic Numbers of the Professor
The title, an obvious gentle tribute to Martin Gardner’s The Magic Numbers of Dr. Matrix, gives the reader a hint as to what type of recreational mathematics one should expect in this book. However, the book is quite unique. At the beginning, one of the authors Owen O’Shea meets an imaginary person, a most amazing man called Richard Stein, nicknamed The Professor. Together they travel through Ireland visiting places such as Mallow or Carrowkeel for various peculiar reasons while, on the way, the professor informs O’Shea about remarkable numerical coincidences that he seems to be able to find literally everywhere. The size of The Professor’s collection of such things is unbelievable. His curious numerical findings range from ancient history through the year 1776 and the 1915 sinking of Lusitania, to the 9/11 atrocities and the Iraq war.
The reader, who might think he has already heard everything about the Number of the Beast or all possible coincidences between Lincoln and Kennedy, will be surprised by a broad variety of surprising new facts that have not been published before. Do you know what temperature it is if it was zero degrees yesterday and today it is twice as cold? Any idea how many different ways a US dollar can be changed? Can you guess how big a deck of cards is needed for its number of rearrangements to equal the age of the universe in seconds? Do you want to know some intriguing facts about the number 23? Easy. Just consult The Professor! The book is fascinating and uniquely entertaining though it should not be read as a novel. The author warns the reader in the introduction that not too many of the items in the book should be consumed at the same time. That is good news; the joy brought to the reader by the book then lasts longer.