Irving Joshua Matrix
Irving Joshua Matrix — born (Japan, 1908) as Irving Joshua Bush and commonly known as Dr. (I. J.) Matrix — was a fictitious polymath scientist, scholar, and entrepreneur who made extraordinary contributions to perpetual motion engineering, Biblical cryptography and numerology, pyramid power, pentagonal meditation, extra-sensory perception, psychic metallurgy, and a number of other topics. He was an accomplished prestidigitator and an intuitive mathematician, two qualities which he put to good use in most of his enterprises. Being a fictitious character he could perform tasks that were logically impossible; for example, he could "clap one hand in the air" when summoning a waiter or a minion.
Dr. Matrix was the satirical creation of popular mathematics columnist Martin Gardner (1914-2010), who reported some of his doings in his "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American beginning in 1959. The intent was partly to provide colorful context to mathematical puzzles and curiosities, partly as a spoof of various pseudo-scientific theories, and always to provide a humorous introduction to the serious topic at hand.
Matrix was born in Japan, the eldest of seven children of the Reverend William Miller Bush, a Seventh-day Adventist missionary. He resided in Japan until the end of World War II, where he learned the secrets of the conjuring art and worked as assistant to the famous Japanese magician Tenkai.
Presumably it was in Japan that he met Ms. Eisei Toshiyori, and where their daughter Iva Matrix was born on December 31, 1939. Iva accompanied Dr. Matrix through most of his public life, acting as assistant and manager in most of his enterprises. The author of the fictitious narrative pretended to be romantically interested in Iva, thus explaining his continuing interest in Dr. Matrix's activities.
He was a close friend and a student of Nicolas Bourbaki.
Martin Gardner tells of meeting the shady Dr. Matrix at Pyramid Lake, Nevada. He was accompanied by a Filipino assistant named Rhee, who was missing most of his teeth. They called him "One-Tooth Rhee." Both were chased out of town for running a pyramid scheme.
Dr. Matrix was often persecuted by establishment authorities, and many times had to change abode and live under assumed names, with appropriate matching changed appearances. He was accused several times of fraud. He reportedly died in 1980, in a duel against a certain Ivan Skavinsky Skavar, a KGB agent, in circumstances as obscure and dubious as most of his career.
However, in 1987 the author encountered him and his daughter in Casablanca. It was explained that Ivan's bullet merely grazed him, but in order to avoid retaliation by the KGB, witnesses were bribed to state that he died, and a fake funeral was arranged.
- The Numerology of Dr. Matrix: The Fabulous Feats and Adventures in Number Theory, Sleight of Word, and Numerological Analysis (Literary, Biblical, Political, Philosophical and Psychonumeranalytical) of That Incredible Master Mind (1967), Simon & Schuster.
- Reprinted/expanded as The Incredible Dr. Matrix: The World's Greatest Numerologist'' (1976), Charles Scribner's Sons; ISBN 0-684-14669-X.
- Reprinted/expanded as The Magic Numbers of Dr. Matrix (1985); Prometheus Books; Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 84-43183, ISBN 0-87975-281-5 (cloth), 0-87975-282-3 (paper).
- Ask dr. Matrix An on-line cybernetic numerologist inspired by dr. Matrix