Unlock the secrets of ‘Magic Squares’ in Mathematics Seminar

An example of a magic square from Albrecht Durer’s 'Melanchloia.'

A magic square is a square array of the numbers 1,2,3,…,n2, arranged so that the sum of these numbers along any horizontal, vertical or main diagonal line is always the same. Here is an example from Albrecht Durer’s ‘Melanchloia,’ 1514; note that the sum along any horizontal, vertical, or main diagonal line is always 34.

“Magic Squares” will be the topic of the Mathematics Department’s last monthly Mathematics Seminar for fall 2012. Brian Hadley, a former GRCC mathematics student and current Western Michigan University mathematics major, will give the presentation from 3-4 p.m. on December 5 in 107 Cook. Pop and cookies will be served at 2:45 p.m.

Parts of this talk will be accessible to anyone. Those with an interest in number patterns or who plan to teach mathematics are especially encouraged to attend.

Magic squares have fascinated professional mathematicians as well as mathematical hobbyists for over 4,000 years.  The Lo Shu magic square, with its uniqueness, captures the symmetry and beauty of mathematics, Dürer’s square backdrops his famous engraving “Melancholia,” and Benjamin Franklin constructed them to keep his mind sharp.  We will explore a few magic squares and unlock some of their mysteries.