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Secrets of Mental Math: The Mathemagician's Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks Paperback – August 8, 2006
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“A magical mystery tour of mental mathematics! Fascinating and fun.” —Joseph Gallian, president of the Mathematical Association of America
“The clearest, simplest, most entertaining, and best book yet on the art of calculating in your head.” —Martin Gardner, author of Mathematical Magic Show and Mathematical Carnival
“This book can teach you mental math skills that will surprise you and your friends. Better, you will have fun and have valuable practical tools inside your head.” —Dr. Edward O. Thorp, mathematician and author of Beat the Dealer and Beat the Market
About the Author
Michael Shermer is host of the Caltech public lecture series, a contributing editor to and monthly columnist of Scientific American, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, and the author of several science books. He lives in Altadena, California.
Top Customer Reviews
I love this book and I think that it really will help people feel more confident when they take a test or just are trying to figure the tip.
Well, this book is not that. It gets right to the point. It's very well written. It's fun. It's practical. And as long as you take your time to mentally practice what you're learning along the way, you can and should be able to master the techniques in this book. You needn't have any mathematical expertise going in. Of course, the author doesn't promise anything special about what you can do with these abilities, although there are some practical applications suggested along the way. All I can say is that it's fun and gives you something interesting to do with your brain when you're bored. And certainly if you like Math already or are a Math teacher, it can be tremendously helpful.
Arthur Benjamin wrote the main content of the book, and Michael Shermer (Skeptic Magazine founder and Scientific American columnist) wrote introductory and closing chapters. These seem a little out of place to me, but they're certainly very good and useful general information about critical thinking. In addition to Bill Nye's (The Science Guy) new intro, James Randi's (famous magician and skeptic) introduction from an earlier edition is included.
Anyway, the main purpose of this "review" is to share my success at making a regenerating practice sheet in Excel that will generate an endless number of problems. If you like to tinker with Excel, go for it! But I'll give you mine if you want it. The core of mine is the random number generator "rand()" and I manipulate it with other functions. For example, the cell formula
(without quotes) will place a three digit random whole number in a cell.
I've begun a spreadsheet of drills for the first few subjects in the book, including multiplying by 11, squaring two-digit numbers ending in five, finding compliments, adding and subtracting three-digit numbers, and multiplying 2 x 1 digits and 3 x 1 digits. For each of those types of problems there are ten examples. The answers are hidden (by using a white font) until you highlight the answer cell. The real beauty is that hitting F9 generates a whole new set of ten problems for each type. As I continue to read the book, I'll add more drills. When you have time to kill, it's a much more productive activity than Free Cell!
Leave a comment if you'd like me to email the spreadsheet to you. With the sample techniques I've used you can probably figure out how to make additional problem types.
My only negative comment is that the publisher needs to more carefully edit the text. I came upon three typos within the first couple of chapters, and these were errors in operations signs (for example, "+" instead of "x").
If you are studying college level maths it will certainly help you impress your friends (though it deals with raw calculation rather than complex theories), but that's not really who the book is aimed at. These are skills you can use, and that will help you every time you go shopping for groceries, when you're trying to figure out the interest on your credit card, or trying to figure out a fair tip.
It's not for the lazy reader though, as each of the skills, useful as they are - require some amount of practice. Don't be put off, it is really only a little effort for a huge return, but it certainly isn't passive knowledge.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I can not WAIT to put these tips and techniques into practice!Published 16 days ago by Brian D. Worrell
Easy to read, no rambling, straight to the methods and practicalPublished 1 month ago by johnny lin
I'm about half way through the book and can say I've definitely picked up some useful tricks. Be warned, this isn't a passive read where everything will suddenly click and you will... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Aaron Ziegler