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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

A Mathematical New Years Game

First, let me begin by wishing a happy 2010 to you all. If you celebrate the holidays the way I do, then the past few weeks have seen you spending time with friends and family. And if you really celebrate the holidays the way I do, then some of that time with friends and family will have been spent with mathematical puzzles.

Very recently I was with a group of friends, discussing all that would come to pass in this new year. One friend, whose anonymity I will preserve by referring to him only as “Smith,” was in the enviable position of being the only one among us whose age divided the current year (I won’t embarrass him by revealing his age, but given that it’s a divisor of 2010, this certainly restricts the possibilities). Once we realized this, it became natural to ask how common an occurrence this should . . . → Read More: A Mathematical New Years Game

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