Home > Math, Obituary > Martin Gardner, RIP

Martin Gardner, RIP

Martin Gardner died Saturday. I wrote about him just last month, at which time I noted that although “not himself a mathematician, Gardner is one of history’s great popularizers of mathematics, through his long-running “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American. He is as well one of the great debunkers of pseudo-science.” I own several compilations of his Scientific American columns, plus his one novel, The Flight of Peter Fromm, an odd book about religion and theology.

You can read more about Gardner in the NYT obituary, or by clicking on various links at the Scientific American website. For instance, several people pay tribute here and a 1995 Scientific American profile is republished here.

I have little I can add to what others have said. Here are some of the thoughts of Douglas Hofstadter, famed polymath in his own right:

. . . so few people today are really aware of what a giant he was in so many fields—to name some of them: the propagation of truly deep and beautiful mathematical ideas (not just “mathematical games,” far from it!); the intense battling of pseudoscience and related ideas; the invention of superb magic tricks; the love for beautiful poetry; the fascination with profound philosophical ideas (Newcomb’s paradox, free will, etcetera etcetera); the elusive border between nonsense and sense; the idea of intellectual hoaxes done in order to make serious points (for example, one time, at my instigation, he wrote a scathing review of his own book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener in The New York Review of Books, and the idea was to talk about the ideas seriously even though he was attacking the ideas that he himself believed in); and on and on and on and on. Martin Gardner was so profoundly influential on so many top-notch thinkers in so many disciplines—just a remarkable human being—and at the same time he was so unbelievably modest and unassuming.

Advertisements
Categories: Math, Obituary
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: