What Do Cooking and Card Tricks Have in Common? You Do the Math

Contact: Arlie Corday, WPI Media & Community Relations

WORCESTER, Mass. - Students at WPI can get cooking with a card sharp and win big. On Friday, March 31, at 3 p.m. Worcester Polytechnic Institute will kick off a campuswide mathematics contest in Founders Hall country kitchen. The event will feature a cooking demonstration followed by card tricks.

WPI mathematics professor Brigitte Servatius explains, "The cooking has a dual role. For one, it is a pun on the word 'dough,' since students will win up to $500 in prizes through the math contest. For another, there are math-related concepts involved with cooking, such as determining the surface tension of rising dough."

After cooking up interest in the contest, Servatius will offer feats of magic. S. Brent Morris, a mathematician with the National Security Agency, will demonstrate card tricks.

"He will explain the mathematics behind card tricks," Servatius said. "The WPI chapter of the national mathematics honor society, Pi Mu Epsilon, has invited him to campus."

Morris has written a number of popular books on card tricks, and three copies will be offered as prizes to those attending the contest kickoff event. Sponsored by United Technologies Corp., the contest will end at the end of April, which happens to be National Math Awareness Month. For more information, contact Servatius at 508-831-5361 or e-mail bservat@wpi.edu.