Dr. Persi Diaconis (wonderful name) has published a new book, Magical Mathematics: The Mathematical Ideas That Animate Great Magic Tricks, which combines his love of mathematics and his knowledge of magic. Discussion here from the Chronicle of Higher Education, which also touches on his opinion of exposure.
[H]is magician friends have complained to him about his new book, which has been in the works for decades. Early in the project the publisher suggested the subtitle, "Revealing the Secrets of the World's Great Magic Tricks," which might have sold more books but might also have upset more magicians. "Persi was getting pushback because magicians don't reveal," says Graham, his co-author. One person reportedly concerned about the project is Ricky Jay, a well-known magician and historian of magic who also apprenticed with Dai Vernon. "Some of the tricks in there, he does," says Diaconis of his friend Jay. "He was sort of heartbroken." (Jay could not be reached for comment.)Diaconis says his goal is to educate rather than to make a buck off of his knowledge of magic. The new book can help show the public a serious side of magic not often in the spotlight, he told Jay. The idea, as he puts it, is "to try to show people that tricks have a lot of substance in them—that magic is an art, and it has its own depth and breadth."Diaconis wasn't always so open to sharing his techniques. In fact, some magicians say the professor is notoriously reluctant to share material, especially from his time with Vernon. A review of the book published in the September issue of Genii, The Conjurors' Magazine refers to his reputation "as an infamous 'black hole' repository, where magic secrets enter and from which they never escape." It notes that the book leaves out long-held secrets among magicians, and that it avoids giving away any sleight-of-hand tricks.
Magical Mathematics: The Mathematical Ideas That Animate Great Magic Tricks is published by Princeton University Press.