Geoffrey Boocock spent his Time4Chem last year creatively designing arithmetical ‘magic’ squares in celebration of our 175th anniversary after attending a Science in Art event held at Burlington House.
My idea for some scientific art took the form of a birthday card for the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 175th anniversary, especially when I found that there are magic squares for a total of 175, with component numbers that could represent chemical elements via their atomic numbers. In this 5x5 square all the rows and columns, as well as the two major diagonals, would add up to 175.
However, as the 175th anniversary year was already substantially spent, I investigated the possibility of a 176 magic square.
I found that there is a usable, simple magic square, possible a unique one, for a summation to 176.
This defines a set of numbers and thereby, using their corresponding atomic numbers, we can define a selection of 16 elements for the year 2017. The array is a 4x4 grid and not only do the rows, columns and major diagonals sum to 176 but so too do the colour-defined corners, mid sides and centre.
The original 4x4 square (sum to 34) from which I started was found in India in the tenth century and later included by Albrecht Durer in his iconic woodcut Melancholia in 1514.
I have also been a bit of a closet poet for decades and have written about my connected fascinations. In 2000 I collated 30 poems about the chemical elements, entitling the collection Some Elemental Chemystery. I hope that my poetry too can show people that the arts and the sciences do overlap and cross-pollinate.
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