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August 19, 2005


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Hmm... Garfield is blocked by my employer's site filter, but the Mystic Ball is just a stupid math trick.

The Garfield trick took me a couple of iterations to get, but it;s actually flamingly obvious - more coffee for me. The mystic ball has been around for a while and is easy to figure out. Represent a 2 digit number by 10a + b. Then work out what you get when following the mystic ball's formula.

Cute. I like the cheesy graphic and sound. The tacky carny ambience makes me nostalgic for Ray Bradbury's fictional childhoods.

On that note, I think one new sub-crop of magicians appeals to the nine-year old boy inside. Just at the age that we are so inclined to the rational, when science holds such fascination and validation for us, we are also faced with some common issues of growing up, such as being lied to, the realization that fairness and justice do not always prevail. In the face of confounding humans, science is comforting and hopeful. Preadolescents are, in Piaget's system, concrete operational.

Maybe I am romanticizing preadolescence, and maybe these days in the US (where I am) it does not exist as the distinct phase I recall: kids who read, wonder, tinker, love the concrete natural world, and don't think much of sex. These are the kids who get more of a thrill from carny magic than from Vegas magic. Carny magicians, and some of the newer magicians I call the "goth/garage group", have that grubby, somewhat disreputable, human scale. The flashy, expensive Vegas/Hollywood magic shows are out of reach, the carnies are thrillingly accessible.

A kid knows that magic is technical skill, illusions, gadgets. That is what makes 8-, 9-, 10-year olds such difficult audience members for magic. They know it is deception and they are not socialized enough to be reflexively distracted, to follow their cues, as are older audience members. They are also quite proud of their skepticism. In short, a kid knows he could become a magician, too. It would satisfy his love of science, his new fine motor ability, his thirst for recognition and independence.

That, in any case, is the view from my inner 9-year-old boy (writing through my outer 47-year-old woman).

It's was named the Princess Card Trick, by Joe Berg, owner of the Princess Magic shop. He made special packets of cards where you could do it in front of the spectator's face. Later Nick Troost made the packets as specially printed cards. They are now collectors items. The computer variation fools so many people that I would use in in my PP Heathfraud presentation.

Okay, I'm dumb! I wanna know how the mystical ball works! I did notice that the ball would be wrong if I thought of my number BEFORE clicking "try again," but always got it right if I thought of my number after clicking it. But I'm sure that can't have a thing to do with it. Tell me!


For Garfield: take special note of the cards. Sounds obvious, but just do it. Look at all the cards you are shown throughout the process very carefully.

For the Mystical Ball: Play the game several times (10 or 15), each time writing down your final number. Now look at the list of numbers you just wrote down. Notice anything?

Ah-ha, so each digit of the double-digit number you get adds up to nine! Heh heh. But what I still can't figure out is how the program "knows" which symbol to pick. There are several different symbols that correspond to 2-digit numbers that add up to 9.

Mystical Ball hint 2: Look at the symbols on the number list for the numbers adding up to 9 (they're also multiples of 9.) You know--the 9, 18, 27, 36, etc... notice anything?

I GET IT! Ha ha! That's brilliant! I mean, you really don't notice the trick until you look closely!

Did anyone try Darth Vader, he gave up on me, -how sad.

Still don't really get it!! What about the single digit numbers? They don't add up to 9 at the end, yet the ball still guesses correctly!!

well the mystical ball is quite easy to figure out 10a + b and theirs your answer

You idiots!! For the garfield magic trick thing- all you have to do is write down all the cards and different suits, in the end there are all new cards, of course your picked card will not be there, idiot!

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