Vale Martin Gardner

As James Randi so magnificently wrote:  “My World is a little darker… Martin Gardner has died.”  James knew Martin personally; I only dearly wish I did…

I became aware of Martin Gardner when I was a brand new Mathematics teacher at Irymple Technical School in 1974.  I quickly befriended the Physics teacher and it was he who showed me some of Martin’s books.  Those which I still have are Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions, More Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions and The Annotated Alice.  I have read these books many, many times over the years.

I would now credit Martin as being the main character in giving me my attitude to mathematics – in that it is my favourite hobby and has been since the mid 70’s.

I’m pleased he lived as long as he did.  It still pains me that he is no more.  He will live on through his prolific published works and I will treasure what he gave me – and he didn’t even know me.  This last sentiment reminds me of how many times over the years I have yearned to meet him – ah well, I’m still so very grateful.

Eric Fiesley

2 Responses to Vale Martin Gardner

  1. Ken Greatorex says:

    I first owned a copy of “Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions” in my youth. Many years later, I was able to read a few of his books courtesy of Vic Skeptics Library. I was surprised to find out that it was the same Martin Gardner who was still writing magazine articles in the 2000s and regularly publishing collections in book form. Passing on in his 96th year, Gardner was an excellent advertisement for the busy mind.

  2. malvickers says:

    Thanks for the notice Eric, I’d like to leave my own comment.

    Martin Gardner was one of the giants in the field of critical thinking, sadly, I’ve never met him.

    Some years ago I watched a documentary about Martin Gardner by David Suzuki. What a full and interesting life Martin has had, and how he has inspired and changed the lives of many. From the art of MC Esher, magic tricks, the math of gambling, puzzles, paradoxes, cryptography, critical thinking and writing.

    Many of Martin’s books occupy my book case. Unlike many other books, they’ve actually inspired me to try things. I’ve made a hexaflexagon (which fascinated my daughter) and I’ve tried many of his magic tricks. I can make a clover shape with my tongue at a moments notice. This personal oddity stems originally from the friendship between Martin Gardner and mathematician John Conway who disputed, correctly, that you needed to be of a genetic type to be able to do certain tongue tricks. In fact anyone can do these tricks and many others if you’re prepared to try, Martin explained it all with his characteristic clarity and gentlemanly good humor.

    BTW the graphic that is used at the top of this post. It shows in the background a screen-capture from the “game of life”. It’s a mathematic/computer program where pixels live and die depending on their proximity to food pixels and parent pixels. Also shown are some graphics from some of Martin’s magic books and part of a diagram of how to make a hexaflexagon – which is a rather clever folding Möbius strip. Martin toyed with and wrote about all these ideas and many more.

    Martin’s a great loss to the world.


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