Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Number Fun With Ben," edited by Constance Holden. Science, 4 May2001.

Many people are not aware of Benjamin Franklin's mathematical creations,which include "magic" squares and circles. Franklin published three suchexamples, two squares and a circle, long in mathematical literature. ButPaul Pasles, a number theorist at Villanova University, has recentlydiscovered four more that show that Franklin had at least four differentmethods of constructing magic squares. Three of the squares were foundamong a multi-volume collection of his papers, and the fourth was containedin a facsimile of one of his letters written in 1765, found in the libraryof the Royal Society in London. The article includes an illustration of amagic square with "bent columns".

--- Annette Emerson

American Mathematical Society