Martin Gardner

From Academic Kids

Martin Gardner (born October 21, 1914) is an American recreational mathematician, skeptic, and author of the long-running but now discontinued "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American.


Interests and writings

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Martin Gardner more or less singlehandedly sustained and nurtured interest in recreational mathematics in the U.S. for a large part of the 20th century. He is best known for his decades-long efforts in popular mathematics and science journalism. His interests range from science and philosophy to magic and the philosophical movement of skepticism, of which he is considered a notable figure in the field. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

Occasional conferences of people sharing his interests, known as the "Gatherings for Gardner," are held in his honor. The first was held in 1993.

In his "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American, he introduced many subjects to a wider audience, including:

He is the author or editor of more than 100 books and booklets, including books on mathematics, science, pseudoscience, philosophy, literary criticism, and fiction (including Visitors from Oz, based on L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz).

In addition to his expository writing about mathematics, Gardner has been an avid controversialist on contemporary issues, arguing for his points of view in a wide range of fields. Though particularly well known for his critique of pseudoscientific beliefs, Gardner has also taken sides on political, economic, historical and philosophical controversies. His philosophical views, for example, are described and defended in his book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener.

Martin Gardner has an abiding interest in religious belief. He has written repeatedly about what public figures such as Robert Maynard Hutchins, Mortimer Adler, and William F. Buckley, Jr. believed and whether their beliefs were logically consistent. In some cases, he has attacked prominent religious figures such as Mary Baker Eddy on the grounds that their claims are unsupportable. His semiautobiograpical novel The Flight of Peter Fromm depicts a traditionally Protestant Christian man struggling with his faith, examining 20th century scholarship and intellectual movements and ultimately rejecting Christianity while remaining a theist. He describes his own belief as philosophical theism inspired by the theology of the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno. While critical of organized religions, Gardner believes in God, knowing that this belief cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed by reason. At the same time, he is skeptical of claims that God has communicated with human beings through spoken or telepathic revelation or through miracles in the natural world.

Martin Gardner's philosophy may be summarised as follows: There is nothing supernatural, and nothing in human reason or visible in the world to compel people to believe in God. The mystery of existence is enchanting, but a belief in The Old One comes from faith without evidence. However, with faith and prayer people can find greater happiness than without. If there is an afterlife, the loving Old One is real. "The universe is the most exquisite mechanism ever constructed by nobody", from G.K.Chesterton is one of Martin's favorite quotes.

Gardner is respected by both the magic and scientific communities. His book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science has become a classic work. He is a member of CSICOP, and wrote a column called "Notes of a Fringe Watcher" (originally "Notes of a Psi-Watcher) from 1983 to 2002 in the Skeptical Inquirer. These have been collected in 5 books: New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher (1988), On the Wild Side (1992), Weird Water and Fuzzy Logic (1996), Did Adam and Eve Have Navels (2000), and Are Universes Thicker than Blackberries (2003).

There is an asteroid, (2587) Gardner, named in his honor.

Gardner has sometimes used pseudonyms, including "Uriah Fuller" (a parody of Uri Geller, whom Gardner considers a fraud) and "Armand T. Ringer." Under the name Uriah Fuller he wrote Confessions of a Psychic and Further Confessions of a Psychic, two privately printed booklets explaining how so-called psychics do their "seemingly impossible paranormal feats."

Selected works

Chronology of selected books by Gardner

  • 1998 Mathematical Recreations: A Collection in Honor of Martin Gardner, Dover; ISBN 0486400891 - This book, edited by David A. Klamer was the tribute of the mathematical community to Gardner, when he 'retired' (this is a reprint). Discretely assembled for the occasion, the stature of the mathematicians submitting papers is a testament to Gardner's importance

Collections of Scientific American columns

  1. Hexaflexagons and Other Mathematical Diversions: The First Scientific American Book of Puzzles and Games 1959; University of Chicago Press 1988 ISBN 0226282546
  2. The Second Scientific American Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions 1961; University of Chicago Press 1987; ISBN 0226282538
  3. Martin Gardner's New Mathematical Diversions from Scientific American 1966; Simon and Schuster; reprinted by Mathematical Association of America 1995
  4. Numerology of Dr. Matrix 1967; reprinted/expanded as The Magic Numbers of Dr. Matrix; Prometheus Books; ISBN 0879752815 / ISBN 0879752823
  5. Unexpected Hangings, and Other Mathematical Diversions Simon & Schuster 1968; reprinted by University of Chicago Press, 1991 ISBN 0671200739
  6. The Sixth Scientific American Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions Simon & Schuster 1971
  7. Mathematical Carnival Vintage 1975; reprinted by Mathematical Association of America
  8. Mathematical Magic Show Vintage 1977; reprinted by Mathematical Association of America
  9. Mathematical Circus Vintage 1979; reprinted by Mathematical Association of America
  10. Wheels, Life, and Other Mathematical Amusements 1983; W. H. Freeman & Co. ISBN 0-7167-1589-9
  11. Knotted Doughnuts and Other Mathematical Entertainments 1986; W. H. Freeman & Co. ISBN 0716717999
  12. Time Travel and Other Mathematical Bewilderments 1988; W. H. Freeman & Co. ISBN 0716719258
  13. Penrose Tiles to Trapdoor Ciphers 1989; W. H. Freeman & Co. ISBN 0716719878; reprinted by Mathematical Association of America
  14. Fractal Music, Hypercards and More 1991; W. H. Freeman
  15. Last Recreations: Hydras, Eggs, and other Mathematical Mystifications 1997; Springer Verlag; ISBN 0387949291

See also

External links

fr:Martin Gardner ko:마틴 가드너 ja:マーティン・ガードナー


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