Cubit

EDMUND ROWLAND

THIS IS a kind of divination effect with numbered cubes. The apparatus consists of three cubes, a simple stand on which to arrange them, and a four-sided cover or chimney which fits around them. These are shown in Figure 1, and the cubes are shown separately in Figure 2.

The tops and bottoms of the cubes are blank, but each of the other sides bears a single figure. One side of each cube bears the figure 0, and the remaining nine sides bear the rest of the figures from 1 to 9.

The stand has a shallow recess into which the cubes can just be fitted side by side, and there is a thin upright piece of wood at each end of this recess to hide the figures at the ends of the row.

When the cover has been dropped over them the numbered faces of the cubes are effectively hidden so that nobody can possibly know which figures are facing the audience.

The apparatus is given to a spectator who is asked to arrange the cubes on the stand in any order he chooses to form a three-figure number. Some of the audience might suppose that he has a choice of something like 899 (that is 999-100) different numbers, but a little calculation will show you that he is really limited to a choice of 216 (that is 9 x 6 x 4). The exact range of choice need not be mentioned, of course, for the fact remains that it is still too large for anyone to discover the exact arrangement of the cubes by mere guesswork.

In spite of this, you are always able to discover the number which is facing the audience even when the cubes have been covered by the chimney, and to reveal it in any way that you choose.

The secret depends upon the fact that the cubes are not completely covered even when the chimney is in position, though even if the audience realises this they are not likely to attach any significance to it, for it is only the tops which are visible and these are completely blank.

The cubes have been made very carefully, however, so that they are quite identical except in one very small respect.

In each case they have been cut so that all the edges and corners are quite sharp or pointed except for one corner at the top of one of the cubes, two corners at the top of another, and three corners at the top of the third which have been slightly blunted or rounded with a file or some fine sandpaper. To the casual observer this small amount of preparation is not noticeable and only the person who knows what to look for can make any use of it. The way in which it can be used to tell you the figures on the fronts of the cubes is indicated in Figure 2 where the rounded corners are heavily marked for clarity.

Suppose that you are standing behind the cubes and facing the audience. If the cube which has only one rounded corner is in a position which makes this the front left-hand corner, the figure which is facing the audience is 0. If it is the front right-hand corner, the figure is 1; if it is the back right-hand corner, it is 4; and if it is the back left-hand corner, it is 7. A glance at the rest of the illustrations will show you that the positions of the other two cubes can be easily spotted in a similar manner if you imagine them turning in a clockwise direction.

For example; if the arrangement is the one which is shown in Figure 3, the number facing the audience must be 620, which is also the number appearing on the cubes in the stand in Figure 1.

The only difficulty, therefore, is the actual manufacture of the cubes. They must be cut from very close-grained wood, and given a thin coat of hard enamel if this is needed, so that the grain of the wood does not show and suggest a method of detecting their relative positions. The best material from which they could be made would be solid plastic, but this would probably make them more expensive. On the other hand, they can be made as small or as large as you prefer, but it is obvious that they must be treated fairly carefully and not thrown about, or you will soon find that all the corners have been accidentally chipped or blunted, and then you will not be able to work the effect at all. For this same reason the chimney and stand should fit together fairly well so that they will help to protect the cubes when the apparatus is being carried in your case.

I think you will agree that this" is rather different from the usual type of divination effect v.'ith coloured rods or pencils, and I hope that you might prefer it to the usual " think-of-a-number " problem which calls for a certain amount of meaningless calculation on the part of the spectator. In this effect the spectator's part is quite simple and straightforward, and there is also very little for you to remember—or forget.

Manufacturing and Selling rights reserved by Edmund Rowland.

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