Remembering Martin Gardner, Mathematical Magician
“I’m strictly a journalist.”
– Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner had no formal mathematical training. A newspaper reporter, publicist, freelancer for Esquire, caseworker, magician, skeptic, Navy sailor, and most famously, “Mathematical Games” columnist for Scientific American, Gardner displayed a boundless energy and enthusiasm for intellectual inquiry. A tireless advocate for science, his popular books and articles painstakingly argue against the dangers of pseudoscience in all forms.
On Saturday, Gardner passed away at the age of 95 in Norman, OK. He will be remembered for his prolific writing, wide-ranging interests, unquenchable curiosity, and infectious enthusiasm for the odder side of math. A writer first, Gardner’s triumph was in bringing the delight of discovery to his readers. Inquisitive and sharply analytic, he researched everything from origami and variations on tic-tac-toe to card tricks, probability, and his famous brain teasers – “an orgy of right-brain tomfoolery that could be approached for superficial fun or deep insight, or both at the same time…” – David Brooks, The Telegraph.
Thank for puzzling us through the years, Martin Gardner (1914-2010). Revisit some of our favorite moments on TSoTP with Mr. Gardner:
And some puzzles!
[*N.B. These contests are no longer running, but will no doubt tease your brain and challenge your creativity… go here for our “Hall of Fame” responders.]
And some miscellany!
“His was a clarifying intelligence: he said his talent was asking good questions and transmitting the answers clearly and crisply.”
“[A] journalist whose omnivorous curiosity gave rise to wide-ranging writings that popularized mathematics, explored theology and philosophy, debunked pseudoscience and provided in-depth analysis of Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat…”
“For Gardner, the game is the life.”