There was not an empty seat in Daggy Hall as “Mathemagician” Arthur Benjamin prepared to take the stage to show off his math and magic skills Tuesday.
The show was part of the first annual lecture series held in honor of Calvin Long, a former math professor at WSU.
“We are excited to have such a high energy kick-off to this annual series of math lectures,” said Bill Webb, a math professor and lecture organizer.
The event started off with Benjamin asking the crowd, “Who here has a calculator?” and without hesitation, at least 30 calculators shoot up in the air. He then selected four people at random to come up on stage and race against him in a calculator-verses-mental-math showdown of squaring four-digit numbers.
Benjamin involved the audience on multiple occasions. He recited the first 60 digits of pi, which were checked by a member in the audience who was also able to recite them from memory.
The next part of the show involved telling the audience what day of the week they were born on through the use of an algorithm. Benjamin's finale was to multiply six-digit numbers by six-digit numbers in his head.
“I found it most interesting when he multiplied one five-digit number by a second five-digit number,"said freshman chemical engineering major Danielle York."I was in pain just watching him.”
With a mix of parents, children, students and faculty, the question-and-answer portion of the show was an opportunity for the audience to get involved with the presentation. Many different questions were asked of Benjamin, including what is his IQ and what is the highest prime number that he could recite. One of the last questions he took was how students can sharpen their math skills. His answer: do your homework.
“Stuff that looks impressive can be done simply and with a little practice,” junior chemical engineering major Matthew Summer said.
The show wrapped up with Benjamin explaining how he executed his mathematical feats — something he said most magicians don't do. He explained to the audience how he used different algorithms to figure out his math magic problems.
“I found the explanation section of the show to be the most fascinating,"junior math major Sarah Hogan said. “It is cool that I know how to calculate the day someone was born.”