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Martin Gardner Testimonials

21 October 2014 is the centenary of the birth of Martin Gardner, the supreme populariser of mathematics (amongst much else) who sadly passed in 2010. Those behind the Martin Gardner Centennial website and associated Twitter account @MGardner100th are collecting testimonials from people inspired by his work.

What does his extensive written legacy mean to you? Are you one of the many who can say things like “I only read Scientific American for Martin’s column” or “The reason I became a [insert profession/hobby here] is because of Martin”?

We’d love you to submit your comments here please. Feel free to say a little about yourself; if you taught physics for 27 years, tell us. If you are an artist or puzzle maker, or a student of computer science or psychology or linguistics, let us know. If you were lucky enough to correspond with or meet the great man, share your story. If you’ve already written elsewhere about Martin’s influence on you, please don’t be shy about giving details (web links, etc). If you’re a well-known author yourself, who knew Martin, please chime in too. Martin didn’t care if his sources or correspondents were amateurs or professionals, and we’re equally broadminded. We actively seek a good cross-section of comments, but we don’t mind repetition either. So many people have similar stories to tell, and we want them all.

Currently testimonials include Keith Devlin (testimonial #29), Cliff Pickover (#24), George Hart (#9), Max Maven (#3), John Allen Paulos (#30) and Colm Mulcahy (#7).

The website says all submissions will be posted following review. Testimonials can be submitted via the website or by email to gardnercentennial@gmail.com.

More information

Martin Gardner Testimonials.

For more about Martin Gardner, listen to the All Squared interview with Colm Mulcahy.

Via John Read on Twitter, who submitted testimonial #38.

Persi Diaconis lecture: “The Magic of Martin Gardner”

The one and only Persi Diaconis is going to give a lecture on Martin Gardner at Queen Mary University of London next April. Exciting!

As part of the 2014 British Mathematical Colloquium, join Professor Persi Diaconis, mathematician and former professional magician to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Martin Gardner, with a lecture on the life, work and magic of this famous populariser of mathematics and science.

Martin Gardner brought mathematics to life for millions of people from homemakers to professional mathematicians. Professor Diaconis will try to explain what he did and how he did it. From Alice in Wonderland, Psychic exposures, bad poetry, the Game of Life, public key cryptography and a thousand other things, his clarity and curiosity are contagious. But, beware–as someone once wrote:

WARNING: Martin Gardner has turned dozens of innocent youngsters into math professors and thousands of math professors into innocent youngsters.

The hour-long lecture will take place at 18:30 on the 7th of April, 2014, in the Great Hall of QMUL’s People’s Palace.

More information

The Magic of Martin Gardner event page at QMUL.

via Ivan Tomasic on Twitter

All Squared, Number 8: Martin Gardner (Colm Mulcahy part 2)

Martin Gardner "standing by every word he ever wrote"

This is the second and final part of our interview with Colm Mulcahy. Last week we talked about card magic; in this part we moved on to the subject of Martin Gardner and the gatherings of interesting people associated with his name.

We’ve tacked on some blather we recorded about the British Science Festival in Newcastle to the end of this podcast. Listen in to hear what we think about maths! (We’re broadly in favour of it.)

Play

Martin Gardner celebration week in Nottingham

Last Sunday saw the anniversary of the birth of Martin Gardner, and as a celebration, the Gathering for Gardner people planned a world-wide party ‘G4G Celebration of Mind‘. It happened to be Maths Jam night on Tuesday, so we put the Nottingham Maths Jam on the G4G-COM map. Then on Friday three of us had agreed to take a puzzles stall to the Nottingham STEM Pop Up Shop, so I added this to the map as well.

A Celebration of Mind party is supposed to “celebrate the legacy of Martin Gardner on or around Sunday, October 21, 2012 through the enjoyment of [one or more of] Puzzles, Magic, Recreational Math, Lewis Carroll, Skepticism and Rationality”.

At Maths Jam I printed a bunch of flexagon material from the Flexagon Party page. I also had a plan: having finished two jobs in recent years with piles of business cards outstanding, I brought these to try some business card origami. In fact, we decided to make a business card Menger sponge. So we started folding.

Business card folding begins

Meanwhile, John Read had come equipped with some colourful designs to make hexahexaflexagons.

John Read’s first hexahexaflexagon of the evening. Designs from flexagon.net.

John Read’s second hexahexaflexagon. Designs from flexagon.net.

At the same time, Jon made a trihexagon.

Trying to make a triflexagon

Finally, after much business card folding,we had a Menger sponge* (*not a real one, it being a fractal after all!). Here it is, in Maths Jam-style, balanced on a pint of beer.

The completed business card Menger sponge

And here’s a shot through the Menger sponge, where a geometry puzzle is being attempted.

Through the completed business card Menger sponge, some geometry is happening

Here are a couple of the other puzzles that we tried, some from the #MathsJam tag on Twitter:

You have 100 coins, 10 of which are showing heads and 90 of which are showing tails (though these are indistinguishable by touch). Blindfolded, you must divide the coins into an even number of heads and tails. 

Which is bigger, 3^(21!) or 2^(31!)?

Then on Friday we made our way to Broadmarsh shopping centre for our afternoon at Nottingham’s STEM Pop Up Shop.

Nottingham STEM Pop Up Shop welcome notice

Here’s a picture of our stall, with Kathryn Taylor presiding, and in the foreground the posters about Martin Gardner, mathematical games and mathematicians that I had printed. Someone did ask me who Martin was and I explained a little; I think I also convinced him to come to Robin Wilson’s talk on Lewis Carroll next month in Derby.

Martin Gardner posters on our stall

Here’s the detail of our stall, which we called ‘Solving it like a mathematician’. You can get details of the set of puzzles on my website.

The STEM Pop Up Shop ‘Solving it like a mathematician’ stall

Looking around the shop, I requisitioned the Alan Turing postcards from the ‘My Favourite Scientist’ set for our stall!

Alan Turing postcards

Here’s a wider view of the stall, with Kathryn entertaining a customer.

Kathryn Taylor at our stall

And finally, here’s John Read bewitching a crowd with the loop on a chain trick.

John Read enthuses a crowd with a ring on a chain

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