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A New Birthday Problem

Last week, Slashdot posted an interesting link to a problem posed at the most recent Gathering 4 Gardner, a mathematical (or perhaps I should say mathemagical) convention created in honor of the late Martin Gardner. The question, posed by Gary Foshee, is as follows: you have a friend with two children, one of whom is a boy born on a Tuesday. What is the probability that the other child is a boy?

Forget about the Tuesday fact for a moment – if you have a friend with two children, one of whom is a boy, what is the probability that the other child is a boy? You might expect that the answer should be 50%, since the sex of one child shouldn’t affect the sex of the other. But this is not quite right, because you’re not told whether the boy is the older or younger child.

There are only . . . → Read More: A New Birthday Problem

RIP Martin Gardner

Not long ago, I wrote an article in commemoration of Martin Gardner’s 95th birthday. Sadly, it seems this will be my last article in celebration of his birth, as he passed away late last month.

Through his passing, though, his influence has become even more apparent. Perhaps because he published mathematical games in Scientific American for 25 years, the magazine has been the most visible in its veneration of him. There are no less than six articles on Gardner at the SciAm website; while some are reprints of earlier articles, there is also new material from writers and mathematicians who were influenced in some way by Gardner’s unique career. Since I can’t do justice to Gardner the way others already have, let me summarize what you can find if you’re interested in learning more about this stand-up fellow.

If you’d like to learn more about Gardner’s life, SciAm has reprinted . . . → Read More: RIP Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner and the Three Way Duel

As you may have heard, last week Martin Gardner celebrated his 95th birthday. Gardner, who authored the “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American for a quarter of a century, is often credited for introducing generations of young students to the beauty and charm inherent in mathematics. My favorite quote in this vein comes from professor Ron Graham, who is quoted in a recent New York Times article on Gardner as saying that “Martin has turned thousands of children into mathematicians, and thousands of mathematicians into children.” A warm brain is the key to mathematical dexterity.

Both Scientific American and Wired ran articles on Gardner last week, and each one used a different expression to represent his age. Scientific American congratulated him on reaching an age of 25 x 3 – 1, while Wired proclaimed that Gardner had turned 5! – 25. Upon reflection I think I prefer the latter expression . . . → Read More: Martin Gardner and the Three Way Duel