Martin Gardner, 1914-2010

Martin Gardner has died at the age of 95. He was a prolific writer in three different areas: mathematics, magic and debunking pseudoscience. Since those happen to be three of my favorite things in life you can imagine how big a fan I was of his writing. His book Puzzles From Other Worlds made a big impression on me when I stumbled onto a copy when I was about ten. It was a great thrill for me when Gardner volunteered to write a jacket endorsement for my book on the Monty Hall problem.

Obituaries are available all over the internet, but I think this profile, published in 1995 in Scientific American, will tell you what you need to know. Losing Gardner is like losing Isaac Asimov, Stephen Jay Gould or Carl Sagan. He will be sorely missed.

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I interviewed Martin Gardner in 1979 for the Two-Year College Mathematics Journal. The transcript had to be cut drastically to fit into the magazine, but I saved a clean copy of the whole thing in my files. It has now been posted in its entirety so that people can read Martin's comments on his life and work up to that point in his career (shortly before he left the "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American). I'm glad I can share this with Martin's fans.

Martin Gardner Interview, 1979

he also wrote a great deal about philosophy and even a surprising amount about certain literature; a truly Renaissance mind... he won't actually be missed because he left such a remarkable legacy of writing to savor for decades anytime we want.

When I first saw the announcement in the NY Times I actually gasped in dismay. Men (or women) like him do not come along often enough. I hope CSI names its next building after him - a small enough tribute to a great mind.

I think that I was typical of many scientists in finding Martin Gardner an early inspiration. In addition to his great Mathematical Games series in Scientific American, I particularly remember reading his "Relativity for the Million" as a child.

It's too bad he was a theist.