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Draw a tic-tac-toe grid inside a square. Where the X’s and O’s would be, fill in the numbers 2, 9, 4, 7, 5, 3, 6, 1, 8—three per row. You now have a magic square: Each row and column, including the diagonal columns, adds up to 15. Yeah, whoop-dee-friggin’-do, right? Well, you might not get it, but to some of us, arrangements of letters or numbers that create puzzles, codes, or elaborate symmetries are pretty fascinating. It’s not just arithmetic—it’s cosmic and, as Clifford A. Pickover might assert, even sexy. Pickover’s The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars contains magic Durga Yantras, Dharmakaya rings, Ganymede flowers, and other tantalizingly named figures that Sex and the City’s Samantha can probably trace with her tongue. Reach pandiagonal bliss when Pickover speaks at 6 p.m. at the Ripley Center’s Lecture Hall, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW. $13. For reservations call (202) 357-3030. (Pamela Murray Winters)