Irving Joshua Matrix
Irving Joshua Matrix (born 1908) — previously known as Irving Joshua Bush and commonly known as Dr. (I. J.) Matrix — is a fictitious polymath scientist, scholar, cowboy, 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 Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner (1914–2010) who introduced him in his "Mathematical Games" column in January 1960. The mythical doctor appeared frequently thereafter and the relevant columns were eventually collected into a book. The intent was partly to provide colorful context to mathematical puzzles and curiosities, partly to spoof 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 Gardner encountered Matrix, alive and well, in Casablanca at "Rick's Café Américain" of all places. 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.
Dr. Matrix columns
Martin Gardner chronicled the story of Dr. Matrix in the following Mathematical Games columns.
|1960 Jan||A fanciful dialogue about the wonders of numerology|
|1961 Jan||In which the author chats again with Dr. Matrix, numerologist extraordinary|
|1963 Jan||The author pays his annual visit to Dr. Matrix, the numerologist|
|1964 Jan||Presenting the one and only Dr. Matrix, numerologist, in his annual performance|
|1965 Jan||Some comments by Dr. Matrix on symmetries and reversals|
|1966 Jan||Dr. Matrix returns, now in the guise of a neo-Freudian psychonumeranalyst|
|1967 Jan||Dr. Matrix delivers a talk on acrostics|
|1968 Jan||The beauties of the square, as expounded by Dr. Matrix to rehabilitate the hippie|
|1969 Oct||A numeranalysis by Dr. Matrix of the lunar flight of Apollo 11|
|1971 Jan||Lessons from Dr. Matrix in chess and numerology|
|1972 Feb||Dr. Matrix poses some heteroliteral puzzles while peddling perpetual motion in Houston|
|1973 Aug||An astounding self-test of clairvoyance by Dr. Matrix|
|1974 Jun||Dr. Matrix brings his numerological Science to bear on the occult powers of the pyramid|
|1975 Sep||Dr. Matrix finds numerological wonders in the King James Bible|
|1976 Nov||In which DM (Dr. Matrix) is revealed as the guru of PM (Pentagonal Meditation)|
|1977 Dec||Dr. Matrix goes to California to apply punk to rock study|
|1978 Dec||Is it a superintelligent robot or does Dr. Matrix ride again?|
|1980 Sep||Dr. Matrix, like Mr. Holmes, comes to an untimely and mysterious end|
A web site, Ask Dr. Matrix exists which finds a numerological link between two user chosen numbers. Irish mathematical enthusiast and author Owen O’Shea has been dubbed by the New York Times as "the heir apparent to Dr. I. J. Matrix in numerological acumen”.
Gardner's Dr. Matrix book went through three editions. The complete list is:
- 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).
All of the Dr. Matrix columns from 1960 to 1980 are collected in the third, and final, edition. One final story about Dr. Matrix appears in Gardner's book:
- Penrose Tiles to Trapdoor Ciphers: –and the Return of Dr Matrix, Mathematical Association of America, Washington, DC, 1997
- The Magic Numbers Of Dr. Matrix by Martin Gardner, Prometheus Books, 1985, ISBN 0879752815
- Penrose Tiles to Trapdoor Ciphers: –and the Return of Dr Matrix by Martin Gardner, Mathematical Association of America, Washington, DC, 1997, pp. 294-314, ISBN 0883855216
- Iread.it: Ask Dr. Matrix
- Numberplay by Pradeep Mutalik New York Times, June 21, 2010
- The Canon: The fifteen "Mathematical Games" books at martin-gardner.org
- Ask Dr. Matrix An on-line cybernetic numerologist inspired by Dr. Matrix