Tuesday, May 25, 2010

RIP Martin Gardner

I missed a lot this weekend: first Jose Lima, and now Martin Gardner, whose work helped foster my early interest in puzzles, a love I have carried through my life. As a young boy, I used to spend hours going to the library to read his books on mathematical puzzles and his columns in Scientific American. From the NYT:

Martin Gardner, who teased brains with math puzzles in Scientific American for a quarter-century and who indulged his own restless curiosity by writing more than 70 books on topics as diverse as magic, philosophy and the nuances of Alice in Wonderland, died Saturday in Norman, Okla. He was 95.

He had been living in an assisted-living facility in Norman, his son James said in confirming the death.

Mr. Gardner also wrote fiction, poetry, literary and film criticism, as well as puzzle books. He was a leading voice in refuting pseudoscientific theories, from ESP to flying saucers. He was so prolific and wide-ranging in his interests that critics speculated that there just had to be more than one of him.

His mathematical writings intrigued a generation of mathematicians, but he never took a college math course. If it seemed the only thing this polymath could not do was play music on a saw, rest assured that he could, and quite well.

PCS contestants are probably familiar with Gardner's general puzzling writing. Gardner also intersected with baseball in other ways, including editing a book of essays which annotated the famous Thayer poem "Casey At The Bat".

RIP Martin Gardner.

photo (including domino art in the background) swiped from this site


Mr. Customer said...

Read this article last weekend. It's a damn shame to lose such a preeminent member of the big-brain set.