The wonders of magic squares. (book reviews) Stephen Gray.
The Wonders of Magic Squares, by Jim Moran. Vintage Books, a division of Random House, New York. 234 pages, paperback $5.95. 1982.
Magic squares are "the mathematical equivalent of the crossword puzzle and two-dimensional cousin of the Rubik's Cube... an absorbing diversion of great antiquity," over 3000 years old, according to the press release accompanying this intriguing book.
The 56 sections of the book are divided into three chapters: Introduction; The Construction of Odd-Order Magic Squares (with 14 methods); the Construction of Even-Order Magic Squares (with nine methods). The other sections cover a range of magic-square subjects, including Disguised Magic Squares, and Benjamin Franklin on Magic Squares, and a few non-magic-square items, such as The Structure of the Binary System (although the book doesn't get into the computer solution of magic squares), and Peculiarities of the Number 37.
Moran, better known as a publicist and practical joker (to publicize a Broadway play, he rode through Manhattan in the back seat of a London taxi with an orangutan in the driver's seat), hadn't even heard of magic squares until five years before developed at SUNY by the author, who is a teacher and also a licensed pilot.
The author has "avoided string variables and even subscripted arrays wherever practical. It should be possible to run most of the programs on all micros and even some of the pocket computers which have emerged using Basic."
Although not for everybody, this very well written and produced book is the first of its kind, and should be of interest to pilots and navigators (for whom it can replace a great many tables), and anybody else with an interest in the subject.
Review Grade: B