Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


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:

The Martin Gardner Interview – Part 1

The Martin Gardner Interview – Part 2

The Martin Gardner Interview – Part 3

The Martin Gardner Interview – Part 4

The Martin Gardner Interview – Part 5

Happy Birthday, Martin Gardner!

Martin Gardner Documentary

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.]

Professor on the Escalator Puzzle

Professor on the Escalator Answer / The Flight Around the World Puzzle

The Flight Around the World Answer / The Absent-Minded Teller Puzzle

The Absent-Minded Teller Answer / The Fork in the Road Puzzle

The Fork in the Road Answer / The Amorous Bugs Puzzle

The Amorous Bugs Answer / The Hole in the Sphere Puzzle

The Hole in the Sphere Answer

And some miscellany!

Most Eminent Man of Letters and Numbers

More Gardner Goodies



“His was a clarifying intelligence: he said his talent was asking good questions and transmitting the answers clearly and crisply.”

The New York Times: Martin Gardner, Puzzler and Polymath, Dies at 95

“[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…”

Washington Post: Martin Gardner, prolific math and science writer, dies at 95

“For Gardner, the game is the life.”

Scientific American Profile: Martin Gardner, the Mathematical Gamester

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