Here are three 'tricks' to amaze your friends. But the really clever trick is explaining to them why these 'tricks' are maths not magic. Like all good magicians, you should practice by trying. . . .

Write down a three-digit number Change the order of the digits to get a different number Find the difference between the two three digit numbers Follow the rest of the instructions then try. . . .

Replace the letters with numbers to make the addition work out correctly. R E A D + T H I S = P A G E

32 x 38 = 30 x 40 + 2 x 8; 34 x 36 = 30 x 40 + 4 x 6; 56 x 54 = 50 x 60 + 6 x 4; 73 x 77 = 70 x 80 + 3 x 7 Verify and generalise if possible.

If you take a three by three square on a 1-10 addition square and multiply the diagonally opposite numbers together, what is the difference between these products. Why?

Think of a number, add one, double it, take away 3, add the number you first thought of, add 7, divide by 3 and take away the number you first thought of. You should now be left with 2. How do I. . . .

If all the faces of a tetrahedron have the same perimeter then show that they are all congruent.

An AP rectangle is one whose area is numerically equal to its perimeter. If you are given the length of a side can you always find an AP rectangle with one side the given length?

Think of a number Multiply it by 3 Add 6 Take away your start number Divide by 2 Take away your number. (You have finished with 3!) HOW DOES THIS WORK?

Choose any four consecutive even numbers. Multiply the two middle numbers together. Multiply the first and last numbers. Now subtract your second answer from the first. Try it with your own. . . .

Think of two whole numbers under 10. Take one of them and add 1. Multiply by 5. Add 1 again. Double your answer. Subract 1. Add your second number. Add 2. Double again. Subtract 8. Halve this number. . . .

A little bit of algebra explains this 'magic'. Ask a friend to pick 3 consecutive numbers and to tell you a multiple of 3. Then ask them to add the four numbers and multiply by 67, and to tell you. . . .

Visitors to Earth from the distant planet of Zub-Zorna were amazed when they found out that when the digits in this multiplication were reversed, the answer was the same! Find a way to explain. . . .

Choose two digits and arrange them to make two double-digit numbers. Now add your double-digit numbers. Now add your single digit numbers. Divide your double-digit answer by your single-digit answer. . . .

Prove that if the integer n is divisible by 4 then it can be written as the difference of two squares.

Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?

I keep three circular medallions in a rectangular box in which they just fit with each one touching the other two. The smallest one has radius 4 cm and touches one side of the box, the middle sized. . . .

Is the mean of the squares of two numbers greater than, or less than, the square of their means?

A group of 20 people pay a total of £20 to see an exhibition. The admission price is £3 for men, £2 for women and 50p for children. How many men, women and children are there in the group?

Euler found four whole numbers such that the sum of any two of the numbers is a perfect square. Three of the numbers that he found are a = 18530, b=65570, c=45986. Find the fourth number, x. You. . . .

Take any whole number q. Calculate q^2 - 1. Factorize q^2-1 to give two factors a and b (not necessarily q+1 and q-1). Put c = a + b + 2q . Then you will find that ab+1 , bc+1 and ca+1 are all. . . .

a) A four digit number (in base 10) aabb is a perfect square. Discuss ways of systematically finding this number. (b) Prove that 11^{10}-1 is divisible by 100.

Investigate sequences given by $a_n = \frac{1+a_{n-1}}{a_{n-2}}$ for different choices of the first two terms. Make a conjecture about the behaviour of these sequences. Can you prove your conjecture?

According to Plutarch, the Greeks found all the rectangles with integer sides, whose areas are equal to their perimeters. Can you find them? What rectangular boxes, with integer sides, have. . . .

Clearly if a, b and c are the lengths of the sides of a triangle and the triangle is equilateral then a^2 + b^2 + c^2 = ab + bc + ca. Is the converse true, and if so can you prove it? That is if. . . .

Take any pair of two digit numbers x=ab and y=cd where, without loss of generality, ab > cd . Form two 4 digit numbers r=abcd and s=cdab and calculate: {r^2 - s^2} /{x^2 - y^2}.

I am exactly n times my daughter's age. In m years I shall be exactly (n-1) times her age. In m2 years I shall be exactly (n-2) times her age. After that I shall never again be an exact multiple of. . . .

To make 11 kilograms of this blend of coffee costs £15 per kilogram. The blend uses more Brazilian, Kenyan and Mocha coffee... How many kilograms of each type of coffee are used?

This is the first of a two part series of articles on the history of Algebra from about 2000 BCE to about 1000 CE.