The Magic Number

Michela Tincani

During Term 1, Dr. Michela Tincani teaches Statistical Methods in Economics. In order to change things up a little bit, on Thursday 6th December, Michela invited John Conway, a magician to help elaborate on the fun side of statistics. John was entertaining with constant jokes and magic tricks.

John Conway magic on the board
Cloda Jenkins participating in magic show

Having front row seats, I was astounded at the tricks involving students writing down their 3 favourite things and for John to correctly predict those words through a word-association game. Dr Cloda Jenkins was also on hand for some of the number tricks as well! The most shocking trick overall involved a large sharp nail sticking out from a wooden block. This was placed into 1 of 4 brown bags, which was mixed around by a volunteer. Next, different students decided which bags John would smash his hand into, with no one (or at least we the audience) knowing which contained the nail. Ofcourse John was fine (well I was covering my eyes for most of it anyway). Towards the end, Michela wrapped up the class by reasoning out how real the magic was through the power of probability. Though the possibility of the tricks being successful based on pure luck/chance was too small, overall it was a very interesting and magical time!

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