Add Infinitum

It's a cabaret show and David has asked someone in the audience to call out a three-digit number. He does, 382, David writes it on a board. Three more members of the audience call out three-digit numbers and these are written down beneath the first to form a sum, for instance:

382 597 481 759

Add Infinitum from the 1974 Swedish television series, "Man of Mystery."

David immediately writes something down on a smaller board and sets it aside. "It's a prediction," he says. "But if I had just predicted the total of these numbers, that wouldn't be too impressive. I'm sure that many of you could add those numbers up just as quickly. And if you can't, your accountants certainly can. But if one, two or more of those numbers were changed around, we would get a different total each time. Let's try."

He points to the first line of numbers, 382 and asks someone in the audience to choose one. The number 8 is selected. David draws a line through it and then writes the number 8 on a second board. He points to another volunteer who chooses a number from the second line. It's 7, which is crossed out and written down next to the 8.

Someone selects a number from the third line, 4, this too is crossed out and written on the board. A fourth number is chosen from the last line, crossed out and written on the board. "We now have a totally new number, 8745 which no one could have known before we started. Do you agree?" They do. The four numbers were freely chosen.

Two more four-digit numbers are generated in a similar way, the audience deciding which figures should be crossed out from the first sum and added to the second. Within a short time a new sum has been constructed.

"We have now created a new set of figures which could not possibly have been known to anyone before we started. Let's add them up." They total 15,251. "And remember, any one of those numbers placed in a different order would have given us a different total. So only a

8745 3987 2519

super human, all powerful mind like mine," says David with a smile, "would have been able to foresee that the total of these numbers is ..." He picks up the prediction board and turns it around to reveal "15,251." The applause tells us this is absolutely correct.

Revelations: David first described this effect in Pabular magazine (Vol 1, No 5, Jan 1975) and then gave an extended explanation in Abracadabra's 2000th issue (Vol 77, 26th May 1984). It is not a difficult routine to do but it does require clear and careful thinking.

There are two factors that underpin the mechanics of the routine. The first is how he works out what the prediction will be. It is done by applying a mathematical formula to the numbers called out by the audience. The method has changed over the years.

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