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The Magic Numbers of the Professor

The Magic Numbers of the Professor

By Owen O’Shea and Underwood Dudley

Print ISBN: 978-0-88385-557-7
184 pp., Hardbound, 2007
List Price: $25.00
Member Price: $18.75
Series: Spectrum

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The Professor in Owen O’Shea’s book is the imaginary American Richard Stein. As Owen O’Shea and the Professor travel through Ireland, O’Shea notes the Professor’s collection of amazing magic numbers in fascinating detail. His mathematical curiosities are wide ranging, concerning the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania to coincidences about Apollo 11 to the first moon walk to new numerical curiosities. The new curiosities, among many others, center on Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy, the USA and Ireland, the two World Wars, the King James version of the Bible, and James Joyce.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Martin Gardner
1. Digit Curiosities
2. The 9/11 atrocities
3. The professor speaks on the U.S. and Ireland
4. Curiosities in armed conflicts
5. Number and word palindromes
6. The U.S—Iraq War
7. The number of the beast
8. Curios of the Lusitania and other curious matters
9. Wordplay and other curiosities
10. New coincidences on Lincoln and Kennedy
11. Dart and card curiosities
12. The professor gives some number patterns
13. The King James Bible and some currency curiosities
14. The professor at the university
About the Authors

About the Authors

Owen O’Shea was born in 1956 in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland. Owen (and his twin brother Michael) was the youngest of a family of 11 children. Owen has said that his parents and family lived on a modest income, but that his parents were hardworking and honest. His father was a non-commissioned officer in the Irish Naval Service. Owen’s mother was a psychiatric nurse in London before she was married.

Owen O’Shea is a single person. He is employed as a civilian employee in the Department of Defense in Ireland. In his younger days Owen lectured occasionally on recreational mathematics to university students. He also frequently voluntarily assisted various people in his community (particularly senior citizens) to complete forms in the areas of social welfare, pensions and tax to ensure that these people obtained their legitimate entitlements from the Irish State.

Owen is the author of a number of newspaper articles that appeared in Ireland in recent years. These articles ranged from such diverse topics as to how the date of Easter is calculated to a biographical sketch of Martin Luther King, Jr. Owen has a wide range of hobbies. His first love is, of course, recreational mathematics. He is also interested in collecting and spotting strange coincidences. His other interests include mathematical magic, science, astronomy, nature, philosophy, poetry, conjuring, word play, and history.

This is Owen’s first book. He says that he will be very pleased if those who read this book enjoy it as much as he has enjoyed writing it.

Underwood Dudley earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology and his doctorate (in number theory) from the University of Michigan. He taught briefly at the Ohio State University and then at DePauw University from 1967-2004. Woody has written six books and many papers, reviews, and commentaries. He has served in many editing positions, including editor of The Pi Mu Epsilon Journal, 1993-96 and The College Mathematics Journal, 1999-2003. He is widely known and admired for his speaking ability—especially his ability to find humor in mathematics. He was the PME J. Sutherland Frame lecturer in 1992 and the MAA Polya lecturer in 1995-96. Woody’s contributions to mathematics have earned him many awards, including the Trevor Evans award, from the MAA in 1996, the Distinguished Service Award, from the Indiana Section of the MAA in 2000, and the Meritorious Service Award, from the MAA in 2004.

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