Martin Gardner Testimonials
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, or you knew Martin (or both), 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.
We’ll post submissions received below, after review. Please keep it to 400 words max. It is our hope that this collection will serve as an inspiration to all.
Please email your comments. Don't forget to add a few words about yourself (and a website, not your email) after your signature.
Derek Couzens | David Cohen | Veena Bhakta Kamat | Yossi Elran | Eoin Gill | Jack Mallek | Mark Setteducati | Andrew Barton | Dave Richeson | Rosa Hernández | Alex Bellos | Art Benjamin | Hannah Fry | Dilip D'Souza | James Randi | Presh Talwalkar | John H. Conway | James Tanton | Richard Guy | Jim Propp | Simon Singh | Stan Isaacs | Phil Riley | Richard Bleiler | Shai Simonson | Ken Smith | Guillermo García | Andrew Harrell | John Railing | Ned Horvath | Raymond Smullyan | Mike Reiss | J.L. Bell | Vickie Kearn | Jean Pedersen | Gordon Hamilton | Peter Ross | Nick Berry | Pedro Alegría | Bryan Bingham | Bob Connolly | Jerry Grossman | Colin Wright | Thomas Drucker | Bob Carroll | Richard Pratt | Stewart Coffin | Akash Kumar | Mary Pardoe | Karen Ashworth | Ralph Dumain | Chuck Sonenshein | Lance Fortnow | Roland Minton | Michael Somos | Matt Baker | John Kiltinen | Fernando Blasco | Ken McClure | Karl Giberson | Tyler Rodgers | Ira Strauss | Andy Magid | Dan Jarratt | Gary Antonick | Pradeep Mutalik | John Sidles | John Read | Ethan Brown | Alvy Ray Smith | Bill Gasarch | Mark Burstein | Jeffrey Bennett | Benjamin Radford | Rudy Rucker | John Allen Paulos | Keith Devlin | Larry Krakauer | Derek Smith | Shecky Riemann | Tim Chartier | Cliff Pickover | Eve Torrence | Woody Dudley | Susan Goldstine | Scott Kim | Owen O'Shea | Donna Dietz | Robert Lang | Bill Ritchie | Pete Winkler | Joe Turner | Jeannine Mosely | Chris Morgan | Bruce Reznick | Tanya Thompson | George Hart | Daina Taimina | Colm Mulcahy | Susan Wildstrom | Victoria Skye | John Miller | Max Maven | Jim Henle | Neil Calkin
Testimonial 105: Derek Couzens
"I am of the age that I bought the first editions of his books and read the articles in Scientific American (in the local library) on issue. I still have my Form Prize for most improved student in Maths ... More Maths Puzzles and Diversions ... All thanks to Martin."        — Derek Couzens, retired educationalist, Kent, England (31 Dec 2015)
Testimonial 104: David Cohen
"When I was growing up, my father and I would read the 'Mathematical Games' sections of Scientific American together. If my memory is correct the very first one we read explained the simple rules that could achieve the seemingly impossible task of filling in a 'magic square.' We were fascinated."
"Of Martin Gardner's many contributions to the world of creative thinking, his elegant and accessible puzzles have been the most influential for me. It is not an exaggeration to say that every area of my life, from school to relationships to a medical career and parenthood, has been positively affected by the lifelong enthusiasm for outside-the-box thinking that Martin Gardner's puzzles kindled many years ago."
"With this in mind, I have been working along with some talented collaborators to create a free, non-profit, educational online puzzle contest called 52 Master Pieces, designed to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers. The surface layer will contain hundreds of classic puzzles (several will be directly inspired by Gardner classics). Concealed within the pages will be a hidden layer of original puzzles that comprise the contest. This seems like the perfect community to appreciate the goals of this project and to help share it with others...we look forward to doing so when the project nears completion. Thanks to Martin Gardner's inspiration, we sincerely believe that the site will have a playful, accessible, and welcoming spirit that Martin himself would have appreciated. The following quote sums it up perfectly: 'The frivolity keeps the reader alert, the seriousness makes the play worthwhile.'"        — David Cohen, physician, online puzzle-contest author, Atlanta, GA (27 Oct 2015)
Testimonial 103: Veena Bhakta Kamat
"Thank you Martin Gardner for all the prizes that my students have won at Intercollegiate Seminar Contests, Paper presentations & Exhibitions---topics and titles from your books. This has motivated many of my students to major in mathematics. Evergreen books in the library for all math lovers."        — Veena Bhakta Kamat, teacher, Mumbai, India (22 Oct 2015)
Testimonial 102: Yossi Elran
"I first learnt about Martin Gardner when I was given his book The Unexpected Hanging. Wow! That really got me interested! Since then, I have read many of his works and have become a true fan of recreational math, popular science and of course Martin Gardner himself. It is through Martin's inspiration that I am now lucky enough to work in the field of science and math education using popular science and recreational math--every day!"
"A few years ago, I wrote Martin a letter, telling him about the work that we do in our online "Math-by-Mail" club and thanking him for his inspiration. I attached one of our booklets on "RetroLife" - the inverse "Game of Life" puzzle. Not only did Martin write back, he did so in such a kind manner, praising us for using recreational math to inspire kids and of course, adding some of his own suggestions."
"Since then, many Israelis have learnt about Martin Gardner and his Alice books have been translated into Hebrew. The events that we hold here at the campus of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot in his memory are always full!"        — Yossi Elran, recreational mathematician, Rehovot, Israel (21 Oct 2015)
Testimonial 101: Eoin Gill
"We have just finished the 10th annual Maths Week Ireland and had over a quarter of a million people involved in maths for all ages and levels. Again and again we meet people who tell us they were inspired by Martin Gardner; these range from mathematicians to members of the public that enjoy puzzles and recreational maths. Indeed many of the schools organise puzzle days and use Martin's puzzles. It is great to see his legacy continuing."        — Eoin Gill, STEM outreach leader, Waterford, Ireland (21 Oct 2015)
Testimonial 100: Jack Mallek
"My name is Jack and I'm 13 years old. I'm fairly new to the world of Martin Gardiner but I've been shocked to learn how many people I know read his books and tried his puzzles. For example, my mom, who is not really a math person, said she loved doing his puzzles as a kid. My dad, who is an accounting professor, said he also did Martin Gardner puzzles when he was a kid living on a military base in Germany."
"I'm a math guy - I can't get enough math. I love Vi Hart videos (check them out on YouTube), AOPS (art of problem solving), Khan Academy, Numberlicious, and PatrickJMT (Google them–you will not be disappointed). I started making hexaflexagons with my friends in school after watching a Vi Hart video. A couple of years ago, my brother and I made a YouTube video showing how to make a 12-sided hexaflexagon."
"We didn't realize that Vi Hart was paying tribute to Martin Gardner with her Hexaflexagon video. It turns out, my pursuit of math has been heavily influenced by Martin Gardner and I'm just realizing it now. Thanks Professor Mulcahy, for keeping Gardner's ideas and legacy alive for people like me and non-math people like my parents."         — Jack Mallek, Washington, DC (20 Oct 2015)
Testimonial 99: Mark Setteducati
"Much is being written about Martin's incredible and enormous body of work, and the influence it had. This is all accurate and can not be overstated. However, for me, the most influential aspect of Martin was the man himself. He was one of the kindest and most thoughtful human beings I have ever known."        — Mark Setteducati, magician and inventor, New York, NY (20 Oct 2015)
Testimonial 98: Andrew Barton
"I came across Martin Gardner's Scientific American column as a teenager, and after I'd been reading for a while I went to the library and systematically read through all his back columns. He helped inspire me to study mathematics, leading to a career based on logic and gaming. His Annotated Alice gave me new insight into the works of another favourite writer. "        — Andrew Barton, logician and gamer, UK (11 Oct 2015)
Testimonial 97: Dave Richeson
"My father, who is not a mathematician, but has always enjoyed mathematics, had a collection of Martin Gardner's books. I remember reading and loving them when I was growing up."
"When I was in high school he gave me Gardner's Aha! Gotcha as a gift. I still remember being blown away by Gardner's discussion of 'Hotel Infinity,' in which a full hotel with infinitely many rooms could accommodate an infinite number of new arrivals. It opened my mind to the beauty and mystery of infinity–and like all of Gardner's writings, showed me that mathematics was so much bigger and more interesting than 'school mathematics'."        — Dave Richeson, mathematician, Carlisle, PA (5 Aug 2015)
Testimonial 96: Rosa Hernández
"I've always felt magical the feeling of creating something, and seeing change as I'm creating. I want to share this feeling of creation in others through design and interaction."
"Being drawn to enchantment, I've found Alice in Wonderland a good metaphor for wonder and awe. A good friend recommended Martin Gardner's annotated version and it completely blew me away. Witty and insightful, Gardner's The Annotated Alice has become a cherished possession of mine, and has inspired me to learn more about puzzles and logic, without losing curiosity and awe."
— Rosa Hernández, graphic designer, Oslo, Norway (4 Aug 2015)
Testimonial 95: Alex Bellos
"Martin Gardner was able to write clearly, elegantly, generously and with immense erudition about abstract and arcane subjects like logic and mathematics. His body of work is a remarkable achievement and a gift to our mathematical heritage."        — Alex Bellos, author & broadcaster, Londom, UK (4 Aug 2015)
Testimonial 94: Art Benjamin
"Martin Gardner was the original mathemagician. He had a unique way of communicating mathematics that was utterly magical. As Persi Diaconis aptly said, 'Martin Gardner has turned thousands of children into mathematicians and thousands of mathematicians into children'."
"I am among both groups and I am grateful for Martin's encouragement to write my first popular book on doing rapid mental calculations. Mathematics will forever be in Martin's debt for making the subject so much more fun and accessible to so many people."        — Art Benjamin, mathemagician, Claremont, CA (30 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 93: Hannah Fry
"I first came across Martin Gardner when I was 14 and found a book of his puzzles while on holiday at my aunt's house. From that moment on, I was hooked. It was beginning of many years spent gobbling up as much of his work as I could lay my hands on."
"Gardner had an extraordinary knack of igniting your imagination, of teasing you through twists and turns of his puzzles and of making mathematics come alive. I still have a shelf full of his books and will continue to treasure them for many years to come."        — Hannah Fry, mathematician and broadcaster, London, UK, (30 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 92: Dilip D'Souza
"I had a pretty good math teacher in school. I had a father with a degree in and a love for math. I mean absolutely no disrespect to either—and I think they'd second me—when I say that it was really Martin Gardner who showed me exactly how fascinating, stimulating and endlessly intricate math can be. But even more, Gardner showed me the power of tireless curiosity, via the wide swathe of subjects he found interesting purely because he asked questions. The great thing about Gardner's writings in Scientific American and elsewhere was that it told me things about his mind."
"At first, of course, it was his puzzles that drew me. But then it was everything he wrote about, from Conway's Game of Life to tiling with polygons to the debunking of pseudo-science. If my interests ever span a quarter of his range, I remember thinking once, I'll be proud."
"In a fundamental way, it's to Gardner that I owe the delight I take in writing my own math column now. Yes, I absolutely do mean 'delight.' My tribute to him on his 100th birthday last year is here."
"In a world filled with irrationality, bad science and hatred, I remember Martin Gardner's clear thinking nearly every day. You see, it goes way beyond just mathematics. As it must."
"Thank you, Martin Gardner, for opening my mind."        — Dilip D'Souza, journalist, Bombay, India (30 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 91: James Randi
"Martin Gardner never, never, failed to interest me. In person, he always had some new flexagon or conjuring move to demonstrate to me, and over the telephone I would hear some new facet of the Alice saga or a nicely naughty limerick from him..."
"The man was so painfully shy that he even had difficulty posing for a photo and felt that three persons in one room was a multitude, yet he positively influenced his fans all over the planet by pecking out the Mathematical Games column that 'grabbed' readers and set them scribbling and sketching just to test what he'd told them—with great joy and enthusiasm."
"At the end of a lecture I delivered to a huge audience in San Francisco many years ago, during which I credited Martin with the material I used in my talk, a group of Systems Engineers gathered around and asked me, 'Is Martin Gardner one person, or maybe Isaac Asimov and Murray Gell-Mann writing as a team?' Assured that I knew the two other geniuses as well as Martin, they appeared satisfied..."
"And he was my giant..."        — James Randi, magician and investigator of paranormal claims, Plantation, FL (29 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 90: Presh Talwalkar
"I post mathematical puzzles on my blog and YouTube channel and I am always researching new problems. Every so often I post a puzzle whose origins I cannot trace. Sure enough, someone will leave a comment that Martin Gardner had written about it, often decades ago!"
"I owe a debt to Martin Gardner for writing about so many interesting topics and helping popularize mathematics."        — Presh Talwalkar, math blogger (29 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 89: John H. Conway
"Martin Gardner was the most learned man I ever met. The only evidence I can offer is that he did not make any of the standard mistakes that most people—physicists, even—make about quantum mechanics."        — John H. Conway, mathematician, Princeton, NJ (29 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 88: James Tanton
"I came on board relatively late with the discovery of back copies of Scientific American all stashed away in the dark back bowels of my university library, back in the 'before days' before I knew what mathematics was and what it could, actually should, be."
"I had run from my high-school mathematics at university, having no interest in the subject I aced but found thoroughly dreary. I wanted something with light, life, mystery, challenge, joy, and truth. And then I found it, by chance, that life, challenge, joy, and truth."
"I stumbled across Gardner's articles. I discovered, through him, mathematics."        — James Tanton, mathematician, Tempe, AZ (29 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 87: Richard Guy
"My comment (from Winning Ways): Martin Gardner ... who has brought more mathematics to more millions than anyone else. (The implied reference is to Lancelot Hogben's book Mathematics for the Million.)"        — Richard Guy, mathematician, Calgary, Canada (29 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 86: Jim Propp
"Before there were search engines, the intellectual world relied on human hubs to serve as repositories of knowledge and connectors of people with common interests who otherwise would not have known one another. Martin Gardner was such a connector. His column was the best mathematical watering hole of its day, and behind the scenes he served as a tireless mathematical match-maker. Gardner was a hub par excellence. If only for this reason, a tribute from Google to Martin would be fitting."
"Gardner had a huge impact on the kind of researcher I became. My earliest orgies of mathematical exploration stemmed from ideas I caught from his columns. Some of the people I first 'met' through his column such as Conway, Diaconis, Graham, Hofstadter, and Sloane served as role models for retaining the element of play in mathematical research."
"Liam Beamish comes to mind. (Woody Allen: 'Liam Beamish could remove his false teeth and eat peanut brittle, which he did every day for sixteen years until someone told him there was no such profession.') For about sixteen years I wrote research articles about tilings, answering such questions as: In how many ways can these tiles be fit together to form that shape? How can one generate such a tiling at random? What gross features does a random tiling display? Answering questions like this was quite a fun challenge, involving many different branches of mathematics. But a very pertinent non-mathematical question is, Who told me that there was any such profession? The answer, of course, is Martin Gardner!"
"I also think Gardner's lucid writing taught me early on that mathematical writing need not be dry and impelled me to try to make my articles pleasant to read as well as mathematically correct. Gardner continues to inspire me; I've just started a blog aimed at the same sort of audience as his Scientific American column. Though some people I respect have told me that the greatest peril to the longevity of such a blog is perfectionism, and that one simply has to blog more often than once a month if one wants to have an impact, I've decided to ignore their advice and try to imitate Martin. His body of work shows that carefully written essays, made available to the interested public on a monthly basis, can have a big impact."
"I always meant to contact Gardner and tell him how he'd inspired me, but I waited too long, alas."        — Jim Propp, mathematician, Belmont, MA (29 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 85: Simon Singh
"On Martin Gardner's 100th birthday, I visited five local secondary schools in England and spoke about Martin and his work. To my surprise and sadness, very few teachers had read his books, and very few students had even heard of the great man."
"Today's teenage mathematicians have a vast array of online material to inspire them, but none of it quite matches the quirky and often profound mathematical books authored by the late great Martin Gardner. He managed to make me furrow my brow with frustration and occasionally made me grin with satisfaction."
"I hope that future generations of budding nerds will be introduced to the greatest populariser of mathematics of the twentieth century (perhaps of all time), and that they will also be intrigued by his writings on skepticism and science."
— Simon Singh, science writer, London, UK (28 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 84: Stan Isaacs
"I first found Martin Gardner when reading his article on Flexagons in Scientific American, while I was in high school. It caused me to become a regular subscriber to Scientific American for the next decades. I read his 'Mathemmatical Games' column regularly, and started buying all his books. I was interested in mathematics, of course, but also Lewis Carroll, skepticism, puzzles, magic, and on and on."
"When his papers on mathematics and the 'Games' column came to Stanford University just after I retired (I was a computer programmer professionally), I volunteered to help organize them for the library, and spent the next 3 or so years doing so. Those files are now available through Special Collections at the Stanford University libraries.        — Stan Isaacs, Palo Alto, CA (26 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 83: Phil Riley
"My lifelong love of mathematics, tricks and magic, and skepticism, mirrored the life and work of Martin perfectly. He was the reason I spent so many teenage Saturdays in Manchester Central Library. A simply astoundingly talented man."        — Phil Riley, media entrepreneur, Birmingham, UK (21 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 82: Richard Bleiler
"My father (Everett Bleiler) and Martin had a lifelong friendship. They met in the late 1940s, at the U of Chicago, and died within three weeks of each other, My mother still recalls, with pleasure, such long-ago events as taking the NY subway with Dad, wafflemaker in tow, so that they could meet up with Martin and Charlotte and enjoy breakfasts together."
"As for me, I recall visits from and to Martin—Mr. Gardner to me, of course—at the house on Euclid Ave, and his doing magic tricks. Among other things, he bounced muffins, making them appear to be tennis balls, and he opened a hidden trapdoor behind his couch and seemed to descend the stairs. The highlight came from his folding his handkerchief into a mouse and then making it disappear. My siblings, who were watching from a distance explained that Martin made me look in one direction, then tossed it over my shoulder, and while they’re probably correct, I will still assert that the handkerchief disappeared."
"Much later in life I assisted Dad assisting Mr. Gardner in some researches on G. K. Chesterton and Morgan Robertson, and of course there were always Alice and The Snark to puzzle on and over."
— Richard Bleiler, librarian, Storrs, CT (9 Jul 2015)
Testimonial 81: Shai Simonson
"As I toiled through the standard mathematics curriculum, memorizing vocabulary and spitting back algorithms, I stumbled on Sam Loyd's books of puzzles, and soon afterwards I found Martin Gardner's Scientific American columns. I read every column and every book on recreational mathematics that he wrote. More than just a source of fun puzzles and good reading, Gardner's writing comforted me—I learned that mathematics could be investigative, experimental, alive, and fun.
Inspired by recreational mathematics, I moved on to Polya's books: How to Solve It, Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning, Courant and Robbins' What is Mathematics, and a beautiful little book by Rademacher and Toeplitz called The Enjoyment of Mathematics.
I studied math in college, got a PhD in theoretical computer science, and for over 30 years taught mathematics in middle school, high school, college, and graduate school. I still try to pass on the joy and experience of doing mathematics as I learned it from Martin Gardner."        — Shai Simonson, computer scientist, Stonehill College, Easton, MA (23 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 80: Ken W. Smith
"Long ago (1977?) I printed out the RSA article (“A new kind of cipher that would take millions of years to break”) and I kept a copy. It took me a little bit to understand the argument and then suddenly it was so obvious and so remarkable! But would anyone ever really use the idea? Of course RSA is now embedded in our internet commerce. And was the mathematical content behind the Robert Redford movie, Sneakers.
I don't think I read the flexagons article carefully enough to seriously play with them but I thought the pictures were interesting. Same with pentominoes; I do remember my brother drawing countless "polyominoes" on graph paper. (He went into physics.)
For years I had in my files Gardner's April Fool map that "required" 5 colors. I've handed it out in classes as a challenge. Anyone doing anything geeky in 1970 had to experiment with Life. I remember it—probably worked on it in a high school class. Great articles!
I learned early that Math is Fun! Gardner helped show the way! Gardner and Sputnik—two great stimuli for mathematics and science!"        — Ken W. Smith, mathematician, Huntsville, TX (22 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 79: Guillermo Garcia
"I warmly remember Martin's article on the planiverse, and the one on the Omega number. I was 13, and they opened my mind to maths and engineering, and made me feel deep happiness and enjoyment.
Yesterday I shared some of Martin's puzzles with my daughters, and told them about the centennial. Kudos to Martin and his legacy!"        — Guillermo García, engineer, Buenos Aires, Argentina (22 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 78: Andrew W. Harrell
"Thanks Mr. Gardner for answering my letter containing my thoughts about your logic puzzle challenge sometime around 1968, I think, when I was an undergraduate studying math at Vanderbilt University. I went on to study graduate logic at UC Berkeley and later got a Phd in theoretical math, although not in logic, in 1974. Looking back on them now my thoughts were full of mistakes and errors, but your kindness in studying and replying to them helped encourage me to go on in my studies. I and Our God remember you, your soul and spirit, and those you hold dear, on your 100th birthday today in heaven and on earth."        — Andrew W. Harrell, mathematician, Vicksburg, MS (22 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 77: John Railing
"I first learned of Martin Gardner during high school in the late 1960s. My twin brother and I would race to the public library to read the latest "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American. We checked out every Gardner book it had. I absorbed everything in his Mathematics, Magic and Mystery. Gardner was the reason I loved math.
Near the end of my college years at the University of Cincinnati, I became interested in close-up magic. When I first visited my magic mentor, Paul Swinford, at his home, I was surprised to see over two shelves of Gardner's books! He was one of Gardner's many correspondents, and I was able to read the letters and cards. Twenty-five years later, I was invited to my first Gathering–G4G3.
Through the years, I called Martin several times to discuss a magic effect or puzzle—or something about one of his books. He was so gracious, and kind. After each call, I literally would sit quietly and reflect on having had a conversation with someone of his stature, yet so humble and appreciative. Without question, Gardner had the most profound impact on my education and interests.
I am not a mathematician, but what I learned from Gardner was how to think about problems and their solutions. I experienced the thrill and joy of the Aha! moments.
Now, my children have this gift of knowing about Martin Gardner and reading his timeless books. As a father, I can think of no better gift to pass on."        — John Railing, magician, director of Gathering 4 G Gardner, Chicago, IL (21 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 76: Ned Horvath
"Martin Gardner, along with my own father, had a profound affect on my life. Gardner’s "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American was one of the things I looked forward to every month from an early age: I definitely remember working with the Soma blocks—Dad glued together a set using children’s wooden blocks—first written up by Gardner in September 1958.
He even mentioned my name in a column once—I’d been one of the first to solve one of his open challenges, and this was a point of great pride and satisfaction for me, that I’d been able to contribute in a small way to the the great adventure that Gardner had invited so many of us to partake in over the years.
His clear joy, gentle nature, and ability to write clearly about complex matters I may never match. Well, maybe the joy. Gardner also told us about fractals, Penrose tiles, hexaflexagons, Conway's Game of Life, game theory, hundreds of others—all with marvelous clarity. He described the Rivest-Shamir-Adelman algorithm, RSA, soon after it was published, and commonly used in digital signatures to this day, in a single paragraph. It was enough to make me slap my forehead—I was kicking myself for not discovering it myself!—but that he expressed it so clearly and succinctly just leaves me in awe.
Gardner is one of our spiritual ancestors, raise a glass to him today."        — Ned Horvath, software engineer, Austin, TX (21 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 75: Raymond Smullyan
"Martin Gardner's writings certainly meant a great deal to me! They have inspired the creation of many of my own logic puzzles. I was also greatly influenced by some of his religious writings–particularly by The Flight of Peter Fromm."        — Raymond Smullyan, pianist, magician, logician, mathematician, philosopher, Woodstock, NY (20 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 74: Mike Reiss
" I was a fan of Gardner's Mathematical Games column as a boy. I wrote him a fan letter and asked several complex math questions. He wrote back promptly and answered my questions in full.
Through his kindness, he showed me there's no great divide between writers and audience. It's one reason I became I writer myself. And it's definitely the reason I answer every letter I get from readers. "        — Mike Reiss, writer for "The Simpsons", New York, NY (16 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 73: J.L. Bell
"My parents had a copy of The Annotated Alice, which was the version of Lewis Carroll's books that I read. And reread, several times, in bits or in whole.
Later I came across "The Ingenious Doctor Matrix" and read that repeatedly as well. I was an avid reader as far back as I can remember, with some authors and series being particular favorites, but I don't think I reread any books as often as those two.
One might assume that would lead me to a career in mathematics, or at least con artistry. But I became a book editor and then a historian. What Martin Gardner's books, especially Annotated Alice, showed me is how books themselves have histories, mysteries, hidden meanings, interpretations not recognized by their authors, and more. At a young age he alerted me to the generation of a text and the likelihood of different perspectives on it–a valuable lesson for anyone, but especially someone whose work became the analysis of texts."        — J.L. Bell, historian, Boston, MA (15 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 72: Vickie Kearn
"I was fortunate to have the same fantastic math teacher for all four years in high school. But, what do you do if you aren't this lucky? You call Martin Gardner! His numerous books are a treasure trove of delights for young and old.
I hope that every person who loves Martin Gardner will introduce him to at least one student each week. Open the imagination of someone who wants to be engaged in math or who is struggling to understand it. This act will make both of you really happy. It is the least we can do for a man who brought so much joy to many people."        — Vickie Kearn, publisher, Princeton, NJ (15 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 71: Jean Pedersen
"In 1968, at the urging of my department chair, Gerald Alexanderson, I accepted an invitation to talk to local high school students. I chose to talk about the hexaflexagons that I had read about in Martin Gardner's "Mathematical Games" section of Scientific American. This led me to a discovery about folding straight strips of paper that could then be used to construct, by braiding, all of the Platonic Solids. I submitted an article about these constructions to three mathematical journals in the US and every one of them rejected the article because they said "Americans aren't interested in geometry." Sad and discouraged I let a friend, Frank Armbruster, take a set of the unassembled strips (along with a picture of how the models should look) to show Martin Gardner, who lived at 10 Euclid Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson at the time.
The day of his visit Frank called from Martin Gardner's home to say that Martin had deftly braided all five of the models (with no instructions!) and wanted to write an article about them for Scientific American! Of course I agreed.
The "Mathematical Games" in September, 1971 issue of Scientific American featured these models, with generous and kind references to me. This was a life-changing event, professionally, as well as the beginning of a long friendship, by mail, with Martin Gardner.
The world will long remember Martin, not only for his enticing writings on recreational mathematics, but for his generosity and kindness to people everywhere."        — Jean Pedersen, mathematician, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA (14 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 70: Gordon Hamilton
"Martin Gardner was of course the primary reason to pick up Scientific Americans. You can imagine my incredulity at discovering a twined-up pile of them back to the 1960s in a garage sale. I hefted them up to owner willing to open my teenage piggy bank, but the dusty, crumpled things were free! Joy! "        — Gordon Hamilton, mathematician, educator, board game designer, Canada (14 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 69: Peter Ross
"Although I taught mathematics for 45 years, from second grade to college, Martin Gardner didn't really influence my decision to become a mathematician. But I do remember reading his story "No-Sided Professor", in Clifton Fadiman's Fantasia Mathematica while an MIT undergrad majoring in math, and thinking that it was the coolest sci fi story I ever read, partly as it was based on real science.
Decades later, while teaching at Santa Clara University, my colleague Jean Pedersen wrote Gardner asking if he had ever investigated what happens when you cut two intersecting Mobius strips together down the middle. (Jean actually made two cloth ones with zippers in the middle for her talks, that she sewed together.) Gardner not only replied yes, with a nice letter, but included a beautiful hand-drawn sketch and apologized for the crudeness of his drawing!"        — Peter Ross, mathematician, Santa Clara University (retired), Santa Clara, SA (12 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 68: Nick Berry
"I still remember, to this day, the location where, as a teenager, I purchased my first Martin Gardner books; it’s one of those moments in life. There was life before discovery of Gardner, and there is the life after. Three books rapidly turned into half a dozen, then continued to grow from there. I still have them all proudly on my bookshelf. Like so many others who are reading this, when you consume his work, it’s like he is writing just for you. His fascination for the subjects, his enthusiasm, enjoyment and interest shine through. It was wonderful to find someone that had such a passionate interest in things that I found so interesting."        — Nick Berry, Data Scientist at Facebook, Seattle, WA (5 Oct 2014)
Testimonial 67: Pedro Alegria
"Forty years have passed since I bought my first book written by Martin Gardner, Nuevos Pasatiempos Matemáticos, until the last one, Undiluted Hocus-Pocus. During this time, these books, articles and reviews have been a constant inspiration in my business and my hobbies, both as a magician, as a teacher, as a mathematician and as a lover of puzzles. This is the last quote I’ve read: "I hated high school, and particularly I dislike history. It seemed concerned only with idiotic kings and queens, and meaningless religious wars. The really important history was the history of science. Of all the vast changes in human life, most are the result of the steady progress of science and technology."        — Pedro Alegría, mathematician and magician, University of the Basque Country, Castro Urdiales, Spain (16 Sep 2014)
Testimonial 66: Bryan Bingham
"I was around 8 when Martin Gardner's Game of Life columns began appearing. A physicist/programmer friend of my father was visiting and showed me how to play the game with cardboard chits. I loved it and read every column after that, although most were a bit difficult even to the last. Martin Gardner (and John Conway) got me started as a computer scientist. I remain fascinated with mathematical tricks and techniques, fads and fallacies, and Alice in Wonderland. That there is more of his work to explore makes me a happy man indeed.
Mr. Gardner truly deserves to be remembered and honored; thank you for creating the website and especially the Twitter account. I am sure he would have been a fabulous in Twitter."        — Bryan Bingham, Chief Technology Officer Cloud at APPCityLife Inc, Albuquerque, NM (25 Aug 2014)
Testimonial 65: Bob Connolly
"When I was in high school in the 1950's, I always looked forward to Martin's 'Mathematical Games' column in the Scientific American. I liked the idea that you put the magazine down and puzzle over a puzzle, put some strings on the back of a chair and do a braid, draw triangulations of a triangle with all acute angles, or stump my friends with a nim game, where I knew the secret strategy.
While I was a grad student in the 1960's, a friend wrote to me about how young men were chosen for the draft in Mexico. There was a large bowl of black and white balls, and the men lined up to take turns drawing out a ball. Those that got the black ball where drafted. I thought to myself, would it matter if a wealthy patron's son were allowed to jump the line and go to the front at some advantageous point? He would still have to choose a ball, but he could go to the front any time he wanted.
I didn't have piles of black and white balls, so changed the problem to a game where you draw cards from a well-shuffled deck of cards, and you HAD to say 'red' at some time. You can't say black, and you only won if the next card was red. I called the game 'say red'. Later in the 1970's, Martin heard about my construction of a flexible triangulated sphere, and during our correspondence, he asked if I had some other things he could add, and I told him about the 'say red' game. He mentioned it in his column, and even sent it to a magician's journal. I don't think that he entirely believed my 'proof' of the answer as to whether you can beat the 50-50 odds in 'say red', though."        — Bob Connelly, mathematician, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (14 August 2014)
Testimonial 64: Jerry Grossman
"One of the influences on my decision to become a mathematician surely had to be Martin Gardner's first book of mathematical diversions, which my best friend gave me as a Bar Mitzvah present in 1961. I did a science fair project on hexaflexagons for the junior high school science fair, and that led to doing more advanced science fair projects on mathematical topics, which led to some prizes, which led to summer internships, which helped me get into a prestigious college, followed by a PhD from a prestigious graduate school and a 40-year (so far) career as an academic mathematician and author. Thank you!"        — Jerrold Grossman, mathematician, Rochester, MI, USA (9 Aug 2014)
Testimonial 63: Colin Wright
I don't remember a time when I wasn't aware of Martin Gardner. A keen puzzle solver, I was given some of his books when I was still quite young, my parents not really knowing what else to do with me. They were the only books I actually knew by author. Every other book I knew simply by title and content—the authors were largely irrelevant. But Martin's books were different. Somehow his personality shone through, and he became a friend through his writings.
Fast forward. I now have a PhD in Combinatorics and Graph Theory, two tools essential for solving the puzzles that have been my companions through my whole life. Now, after more than 20 years in industry, I spend most of my time travelling around, trying to engage youngsters (and not-so-young-sters), looking to get them involved in maths and science. But more, working at getting them hooked on the pleasure of puzzles, and the satisfaction of solving them. Fostering the combination of persistence, inspiration, and simple hard work that Martin's puzzles can provoke is a great way to open the world of science, technology, and maths.
It was one of the highlights of my life to spend an afternoon with Martin, six or seven weeks before he died, and seeing him come alive as I showed him something new was wonderful. Although in his 90s, he was still eager and active, enthusiastically exploring something he'd not seen before, wanting to learn, wanting to understand. He remains, and will always remain, an inspiration to me, and I can only hope to follow his lead, bringing maths to the widest audience I can.
Thank you Martin."        — Colin Wright, Solipsys Limited & Denbridge Marine Limited, juggler, freelance science and maths communicator, Liverpool, England (4 Aug 2014)
Testimonial 62: Thomas Drucker
"Although I was not as intrigued as a teenager as many others were with Martin Gardner’s books of puzzles, his annotated edition of the Alice books was a constant companion. When our high school class included as many lines as possible from ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ in our yearbook, it was a much a tribute to Gardner’s annotations as to Carroll’s verse. When we read ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ as a final English project, we were just sorry that we didn’t have time to read the annotations for that poem as well.
Many years later I read Gardner’s annotated edition of ‘The Innocence of Father Brown’ and sent him a few errata and suggestions. (That’s a strategy I recommend for getting in touch with authors whose works one has enjoyed.) His response (as of 13 April 1988) was generous and he also sent along a copy of the Dover edition of Chesterton’s ‘The Club of Queer Trades’. That’s the only piece of correspondence I have from him but his thoughtfulness was characteristic.
Within the last few years I oversaw a student doing ‘undergraduate research’ in the history of mathematics. Out of all the topics he could have chosen, he picked a theme connected with the Alice books and Dodgson’s attitude toward contemporary mathematics. Needless to say, the idea came more from an annotation in Gardner’s edition than anything I had said in a lecture. It is hard to know which aspects of anyone’s work will survive a generation but the encouragement offered by Martin Gardner to those of every generation will continue to work wonders for apprentice mathematicians and beyond."        — Thomas L. Drucker, Chair of the Wisconsin Section of the Mathematical Association of America, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, WI (18 Jun 2014)
Testimonial 61: Bob Carroll
Martin Gardner’s writings on the paranormal and pseudoscience profoundly influenced a generation of writers, including me, as can be seen by the many references to his works in The Skeptic’s Dictionary. He introduced us to a bizarre world populated by the likes of L. Ron Hubbard, Rudolf Steiner, Edgar Cayce, Bridey Murphy, and a host of other characters on the fringe. He taught us that crackpots and charlatans are dangerous. They should not be ignored, but thoroughly exposed for what they are by detailed critical analysis.
My introduction to Gardner was through his Scientific American column on brain teasers and logical puzzles. When he gave up writing that brilliant and much-missed column, Douglas Hofstadter picked up the mantle. My obsession with Gardner’s writings on the paranormal and pseudoscience began after reading a Hofstadter column entitled “World Views in Collision: The Skeptical Inquirer versus the National Inquirer.” Hofstadter’s panegyric to CSICOP and the Skeptical Inquirer is one of the seminal essays in the history of scientific skepticism. Every skeptic should keep it at the ready for inspiration and revitalization. (The essay, reprinted in Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern, includes an account of Gardner’s split with Marcello Truzzi over how best to deal with Immanuel Velikovsky and other pseudoscientists.) Hofstadter’s essay inspired many teachers to become followers of SI, which inevitably led us to become followers of Martin Gardner’s many inquiries.
In fact, many of us became somewhat fanatical about our inquiries into what Gardner called “wild beliefs.” We can’t stop investigating and writing about them. Thanks to Martin Gardner and others of like spirit, we won’t be quiet until the last bit of bogus science is buried with the last charlatan claiming paranormal or supernatural powers.
Despite my debt to and admiration for Martin Gardner, there was one area of his beliefs that I never quite understood: his belief in some sort of god and some sort of immortality. He explained his belief in essay “Why I am not an atheist.” I think the essay should have been titled “Why I believe in god and immortality,” because it doesn’t have much to say about atheism at all. I was baffled when I read the essay many years ago, and I’m still baffled by it after reading it again. He tells us in the new introduction to the essay (reprinted in When You Were a Tadpole and I was a Fish and Other Speculations about This and That) that he’s responding to many best-selling books that “devoutly defend atheism.” He says he was tempted to write a book on philosophical theism. All I can say is, thank Zeus he didn’t. The essay is without a doubt his least persuasive and most weakly argued. He repeats himself repeatedly, making the same point again and again that faith in god and immortality (the two concepts are joined at the hip in his book) are irrational, can’t be defended logically, have no evidence in support of them, but he and others like him believe them anyway. Since there is no argument to make here, he fills his pages with references to other likeminded souls: Pascal, Kierkegaard, Unamuno, Santayana, William James, and Immanuel Kant.
Kierkegaard was the first of these philosophers that I read in depth and I recommend his "Concluding Unscientific Postscript" to the Philosophical Fragments, Fear and Trembling, and The Sickness Unto Death. They changed my life. After reading Kierkegaard I realized that belief in the various Christian mysteries and faith in god were absurd in the sense that these beliefs were not defensible by any rational argument. They required a leap of faith to believe them. Evidence was irrelevant. Unlike Kierkegaard, however, I was not filled with awe and inspiration, but with amazement that such a brilliant man did not see that a leap to any belief that is irrational was equally justified or unjustified. Ultimately, what leap a person makes depends on his deepest urges. Kierkegaard’s urges happened to be Christian. Gardner’s urges happen to be toward universal justice, immortality, and god. What he means by any of those terms is never clearly defined. The good should be rewarded and the bad should be punished. He leaves it there. He tells us nothing of what he thinks immortality might be like, and he has only a couple of vague things to say about the nature of god. Yet, there is something important to be learned by Gardner’s fideism. Gardner and the philosophers he cites in support of his fideism are masters of separating areas where they are perfectly rational and scientific from the area of religious faith where they are irrational and reject science, evidence, and logic.
Nobody has produced a more impressive body of work in science, reason, critical thinking, and logic than Martin Gardner....as long as he is dealing with subjects in science or the paranormal. He has no trouble applying all the skills of a man of reason to the many claims of many organized religions. But he has carved out a small space in his belief system for god and immortality, and admits that he did not arrive at these beliefs by argument, logic, evidence, science, or reason. The fact is that Martin Gardner was not unique. He is living proof that a man can be perfectly rational in most areas of his life but a complete fool when it comes to religious beliefs. This would seem to pose a problem for those atheists who have been arguing that religion turns our brains into mush and should be eliminated. Religion encourages irrational thinking, say the new atheists, and leads to all kinds of evil things and very little that can be called good. However, it seems obvious that many people are very religious and hold many irrational beliefs while being able to compartmentalize their irrationality without it necessarily spilling over into other areas of belief. In short, many religious people can be perfectly rational, scientific, logical beings in all but one part of their lives. I admit that I am baffled by how they do it, but I know it can be done.
In my youth, I held many irrational religious beliefs. I grew up and studied philosophers like Kierkegaard and became an atheist after many years of not finding any reason to believe in any kind of god. My early belief in immortality wasn’t based on any urge or desire on my part. I was indoctrinated with that belief from birth. Eventually, I did some thinking on what it might be like to live forever. I’m sorry, but the appeal isn’t there for me. I know that some people think that if they don’t live forever then there is no point in living now. I disagree. In fact, since I don’t believe I’ll live forever, I consider every moment I’m alive precious and valuable. Why some otherwise perfectly rational people have a desire to live forever and a need for belief in god and universal justice is something I don’t have the answer to. Likewise, how some perfectly rational people can set apart a section of their beliefs for irrational faith in god and immortality is something I don’t have the answer to. I don’t think the new atheists do, either.
I will always love and respect the work of Martin Gardner and can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not read many of his books. Even so, I’m sure that I will go to my grave shaking my head over the fact that the same man who wrote Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science believes in god and immortality because he wants to. I suppose I should just resign myself to the fact that what a person believes in the privacy of his own mind or feels in the privacy of his own heart is none of my business."        — Bob Carroll, creator of The Skeptic's Dictionary, Davis, CA (17 Jun 2014)
Testimonial 60: Richard Pratt
"I began my real education as a Physics major. During that time I was one of those people who read Scientific American by first running to Gardner's section. After completing my undergrad degree, I lost interest in Physics and went into Experimental Psychology. It didn't take long to develop an interest in Human Intelligence and in Intelligence Testing. Guess what was resurrected? Many of Gardner's puzzlers.
Later, as a Cognitive Psychologist, I would assign some of Gardner's Math or other brain benders to my students. Now, I'm simply an old man who is still interested in using my mind and I have a great many of Martin Gardner's books to reach for and enjoy. Thank you Martin, wherever you are."        — Richard Pratt, cognitive psychologist, Las Vegas, NV (16 Jun 2014)
Testimonial 59: Stewart Coffin
Since I have made a career out of designing geometric puzzles, it would be natural to ask how Martin Gardner’s various writings may have given me creative inspiration. The simple answer is not very much. The only example I can think of is my Snowflake puzzle, which was suggested by his June 1967 column in Scientific American. I just wasn’t much of a magazine reader way back then.
But the story doesn’t end there. No doubt many readers have been challenged by some of the puzzles in Gardner’s column, but I once had the satisfaction of turning the tables on him with a puzzle that totally baffled him. One of my specialties has been deceptively simple looking combinatorial puzzles with few pieces, all dissimilar, that are to be placed into a flat tray. I had sent one to a friend who had in turn passed it along to Gardner, disassembled of course.
Gardner was inspired to write at least two letters to friends about that puzzle, plus a third one to me. I here quote from one of them:
'In case you haven’t seen Stewart Coffin’s latest, you must get one. It’s the finest dissection puzzle of all time. Four pentominoes are to be fitted inside a rectangular tray. Because the area of the frame exceeds the total area of the pentominoes, it looks easy, but actually is fiendishly difficult... I wasted a week trying vainly to solve it. I had to write Jerry [Slocum] for the solution...'
The puzzle in question was originally known simply as #217 in my serial listing, but now it goes by the name 'Martin’s Menace.' It may be found in my 2014 publication, AP-ART: A Compendium of Geometric Puzzles.
Incidentally, this led in turn to some correspondence with Martin late in life (for both of us) but having to do not with mathematical recreations but rather with our personal tastes in poetry, our likes and dislikes. I will say only that we found ourselves in complete agreement and leave it at that.        — Stewart Coffin, creator of AP-ART, the sculptural art that comes apart, Lexington, MA (10 Jun 2014)
Testimonial 54: Akash Kumar
"In my mind, Martin Gardner is a huge figure–one who can inspire hopes. As a computer science undergraduate at an ordinary institute in India, I had little to no exposure of the beauty of discrete mathematics. Moreover, the way we were taught programming did not help either. I lost interest in the subject and felt like I was just drifting through life.
And then one fine day in a public library, I discovered The Colossal Book of Mathematics by Gardner. The first chapter on coconut division between men contained a simple to state puzzle with a mind bending solution. Till this day, it remains the only mathematical proof after reading which my hairs stood up. I dived head first into other books by Gardner I could lay my hands on. Gardner's books inspired me to learn more math than what was covered at our institute and soon I finished a text on Elementary number theory and felt comfortable going through some more mathematical works (mostly of combinatorial flavor). Thereafter, I read one account on Turing Machines by Gardner. While I do not recall the details of that particular account, but it inspired in me a love for theoretical computer science.
Fast forward to 2013 last year, I started my PhD in theory and I can now feel comfortable saying that there is something I am passionate about—I am not saying I am good at it; there is just something I am passionate about and that happened only because I chanced upon a book by Gardner."        — Akash Kumar, PhD candidate, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN (9 Jun 2014)
Testimonial 57: Mary Pardoe
"It has been a recurring joy for more than forty years to derive lessons about mathematics, learning and teaching (in every sense of ‘lesson’) for students and teachers alike, from the ‘noisy fun and games’ that Martin Gardner’s writings communicate and illuminate.
By interpreting each of ‘reader’, ‘student’, ‘layman’’, and so on, as ‘learner’, the following observations made by Gardner in his introduction to Mathematical Carnival express to me insights that have continually facilitated and inspired my teaching.
‘The best way, it has always seemed to me, to make mathematics interesting to students and laymen is to approach it in a spirit of play. … Surely the best way to wake up a student is to present him with an intriguing mathematical game, puzzle, magic trick, joke, paradox, model, limerick, or any of a score of other things that dull teachers tend to avoid because they seem frivolous. The frivolity keeps the reader alert. The seriousness makes the play worthwhile. [The reader] may be surprised  by the amount of nontrivial mathematics he has absorbed without even trying.’
Very many of the intriguing phenomena that Gardner’s expositions investigate provide fascinating opportunities to develop and apply key mathematical ideas. For example, by taking starting points from within Further Mathematical Diversions (which was the first book by Martin Gardner that I bought in 1971) as a young teacher I soon discovered that students relished Upside-down drawing while they established and refined understandings related to symmetry, reflection and rotation; Rep-tiles were equally appealing ‘objects’ about which students reasoned and generalized naturally, while visualizing images that they then persevered to represent. It goes on and on … they loved Spirals, which made them think about angles and number relations, and Flatlands in which they calculated strange results, reasoned and used algebra to express extraordinary general findings….
Rich ideas communicated by the words and drawings of Martin Gardner inspired my students to create all sorts of original products; one ‘exhibition’, in a local library, of their mathematical ‘Gardner-inspired-creations’ led to a professional friendship that in turn led me on to new ideas and new ways of working … It is difficult to imagine my life in mathematics teaching in a world in which Martin Gardner had never existed. I am so grateful that he did."        — Mary Pardoe, National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, UK (6 June 2014)
Testimonial 56: Karen Ashworth
"I was first introduced to Martin Gardner's recreational maths puzzles via friends who were studying maths at university (I'm an engineer... I think perhaps they were trying to convert me). I still love them now and, perhaps more importantly, use them regularly to entertain and inspire children at the school where I'm a governor. There's not a lot that beats watching the face of a child who has just made their first hexaflexagon!"        — Karen Ashworth, engineer, consultant, and governor of Manor Field Primary School, Burgess Hill, Sussex, UK (30 May 2014)
Testimonial 55: Ralph Dumain
"As a teenager I discovered Martin Gardner in the 'Mathematical Games' column of the June or July 1967 issue of Scientific American, having innocently bought it at the corner drugstore on account of my boyhood interest in science. That column featured John Horton Conway’s game Sprouts. From then on I was hooked on Gardner’s columns and related books.
In his June 1968 column Gardner proposed a problem concerning Baker’s Solitaire, and followed up with readers’ solutions in subsequent issues. My name appeared with several others in the September 1968 issue. These acknowledgments were not included when the column was anthologized in Mathematical Magic Show: More Puzzles, Games, Diversions, Illusions and Other Mathematical Sleight-of-Mind from Scientific American in 1977.
Gardner’s columns radiated from the base of recreational mathematics to encompass quite a range of topics. Gardner stimulated my interest in the related hobby of abstract strategy board games, but that was only the beginning. Through Gardner I learned about the artist M.C. Escher, the 19th century fad of four-dimensional space, anamorphic art, Raymond Llull (the godfather of the ars combinatoria), and numerous other fascinating topics reaching into obscure corners of intellectual history.
Gardner’s literary efforts were wide-ranging, but his other major claim to fame was his contribution to the 'skeptics' movement, decades before that movement was formally organized. I read Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science not long after I discovered Gardner. I returned to this book several times over the decades. I was never fully convinced of Gardner’s criteria for the demarcation of science and pseudoscience. In addition to dealing with obvious crackpots, he delved into fringe areas where rationality bleeds into irrationality, such as Alfred Korzybski’s General Semantics, William Reich’s radical psychoanalysis and orgonomy, and Marshall McLuhan’s theory of the media. Still, the range of Gardner’s examples supplied a background I could draw upon throughout my adult life. This book can be said to have stuck with me, but I will forever be indebted to Gardner for all the wonders to which I was introduced via his work on recreational mathematics.
Like so many others I felt a serious loss when Gardner died. I paid tribute to him in my blog, Reason & Society blog, in my podcast of July 19, 2010, and in my web guide to Board Games & Related Games & Recreations. Though my priorities have shifted over the decades, I can still say that Martin Gardner enhanced my life in a particular and unique way. He will always be remembered fondly."        — Ralph Dumain, librarian and independent scholar, Washington, DC (22 May 2014)
Testimonial 54: Chuck Sonenshein
"I have a question for you. Do you believe in coincidence? That’s
At the age of 15 I was introduced to the magical writings of Martin Gardner by professional magician Stewart Judah. He knew Martin only as a magician. When I was 19 years old attending the University of Cincinnati my calculus teacher Charles Pinzka introduced me to the mathematical writings of Martin Gardner. He knew Martin only as a mathematician. What are the chances that two people from such diverse fields would begin my life-long pleasure of reading the works of a man who would be my hero throughout my teaching career and my many years performing as a magician?
It turns out that Martin brought many of us from diverse fields together to celebrate his works. I was fortunate to visit Martin in Hendersonville and spend two full days with him talking about my favorite topics—math and magic. The visit was made even more memorable when Martin’s wife Charlotte interrupted us to tell Martin he was wanted on the phone. The New York Times called to tell him that Fermat’s Last Theorem had been proved. They wanted him to write an article for the Times that would explain the theorem and its long history.
For more than 20 years I have been presenting workshops for math teachers, showing them the fun and beautiful aspects of mathematics that can enliven their classes. Of course, most of what I present I learned from Martin. Surprisingly most of the teachers are not familiar with his books, but by the time I am finished with them they not only know who Martin Gardner is but become fans of his too. Who knows, they may pass on this love of mathematics to new generations, perpetuating the enjoyment and love of all of the many books and articles that this remarkable man penned. I am sure that you too are introducing others the works of Martin Gardner—an outstanding legacy that is well deserved.
I just want to close with a big Thank You, Mister Gardner."
Testimonial 53: Lance Fortnow
"Back in 2000 I wrote a short rememberance of Gardner for my blog. I remember most Gardner's various columns on Conway's Game of Life. Gardner would excitedly report about someone who had solved some challenge about the game. These columns inspired one of the first programs I wrote on my TRS-80 in high school to simulate the game, first in Basic (too slow) and then in Z80 Machine Code (too fast). Didn't realize at the time that I had written a universal Turing machine with such a short set of instructions."
(see here too)        — Lance Fortnow, professor of computer science at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA (15 May 2014)
Testimonial 52: Roland Minton
"Over the last few years I have been inspired and invigorated by Martin's books and columns, which have been a wonderful gift for a 30+ year professor. Taking time, both in and out of class, to share my latest favorite Gardner fact is the best way I know to get students interested in mathematics."        — Roland Minton, author and professor of mathematics, Roanoke, VA (12 May 2014)
Testimonial 51: Michael Somos
"As a child I was already reading about mathematics in the library from books mostly. When Gardner started his column in Scientific American it was the part of the magazine I read first. I continued to read all of his articles and I was amazed at how he could write about real mathematics at a level that the average person could understand. I especially remember and liked his stories about Dr. Matrix and his daughter Iva. His article about Conway's Game of Life started a fad among those, like myself, who had access to computers that could be programmed to play the game."        — Michael Somos, mathematician and computerist, Washington, DC (29 Apr 2014)
Testimonial 50: Matt Baker
"I read Martin Gardner's The Incredible Dr. Matrix as a freshman in high school and immediately started devouring his other books. I credit his books, together with Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach, with helping inspire me to become a mathematician.
I've also been interested in magic since I was a teenager, and Martin's work had a big influence on me in that arena as well. I am fortunate to live in Atlanta now, home of the biannual Gathering for Gardner. It was a pleasure to meet Martin's son Jim at the latest Gathering and get to perform card magic for him. Last year I started a math blog which is my attempt to reach the expository heights which Martin inspires us to climb..."        — Matt Baker, math professor at Georgia Tech and avid amateur magician, Atlanta, GA (18 Apr 2014)
Testimonial 49: John Kiltinen
"Although I am old enough to know of Martin Gardner's writing in Scientific
American, I did not read them there. My case illustrates how his influence
has spread like ripples on water. I designed a computerized generalization of
one of Bill Ritchie's puzzles, plus some other permutation puzzles, which the MAA
published with my book on how math gives the tools to solve them. (Bill has
written an earlier Gardner testimonial here, see below.)
Thus, Gardner's influence continues and will no doubt continue for hundreds of years. At first it will be explicit, with people knowing that they know useful things because of his writing. Eventually, his influence will become implicit, with things drifting into the category of 'it is well known that... .' "
Testimonial 48: Fernando Blasco
"I read Mathematical Carnival when I was 14. Previously I liked maths, but in that book I discovered a different side of mathematics. I continued reading Martin Gardner's mathematical books. Years later, perhaps because of the mathematical magic, I got interested in general magic ...and discovered that MG was also an important person in that field. Now I try to continue Martin's legacy showing to young students the beauty of mathematics."        — Fernando Blasco, mathemagian and author, Madrid (30 Mar 2014)
Testimonial 47: Ken McClure
"I am a devout amateur and an unvarnished generalist, tone deaf to the music of mathematics but drawn to the ideas that are born in it. Perhaps I was first drawn to Martin Gardner because he is such a good guide for folks like that. It then became clear that he was also given to talk wonderfully about philosophy, lightening the burden of ancient complexities with his vivid lucidity. He is a lovely thinker whose joyous mind illuminates our world."        — Ken McClure, Clemson, SC (24 Mar 2014)
Testimonial 46: Karl Giberson
"In some ways I feel like I grew up with Martin Gardner, like a distant uncle always on the edge of my experience. But I really came to love the guy when I encountered The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, his essay collection exploring personal beliefs on topics like God, immortality, free will, and prayer. Gardner was almost unique in his paradoxical combination of skepticism and traditional belief in God, prayer, and immortality. The book was so meaningful in helping me think through the 'Big Questions' that I started using it in an honors seminar at Eastern Nazarene College, where it generated many wonderful class discussions about the nature of belief. Some of my former students have it listed on their Facebook pages as a favorite book.
It was disappointing to me that Gardner’s passionate belief in God was omitted from almost all of his obituaries—save mine. His fellow skeptics—almost exclusively atheists—tried to recast him in their own image, enlisting him in death to fight a culture war he would not fight while alive."        — Karl W. Giberson, physicist and author, Scholar-in-Residence in Science & Religion, Stonehill College, Easton, MA (9 Mar 2014)
Testimonial 45: Tyler Rodgers
I am currently a high school senior. From an early age, I was fascinated by puzzles and magic, and I spent years finding and loving occasional tricks and eagerly searching for more.
Then I discovered Martin Gardner and the enormous treasure trove of his work. Not only did Gardner supply all of my new favorite puzzles, he also explained the logic behind them in a way that I could understand as a ten-year-old. Martin Gardner exposed me to a subject that I loved without even knowing that I loved it. He showed me the field that blends puzzles and magic: recreational mathematics. Martin Gardner's clear and accessible writing style has made me keep returning to his books since fourth grade, first to learn the basics of sleight of hand, then to play with tangrams and penrose tiles, then to find hexaflexagons, M.C. Escher, soma cubes, magic squares, and so much more.
Under his immense guidance, I became a devoted math enthusiast; his books contained enough challenging mathematical concepts to make me have to contribute an effort at understanding on my end, yet there was always enough explanation to retain and stimulate my interest.
While it may sound strange to say, I credit Martin Gardner with my interest in designing small (under 500 square feet) houses. Many of the puzzles that I learned about through his columns involved fitting a fixed number of pieces into a small space, and I often have to use the same thought processes when creating a living space and trying to fit in all of the components.
One day I would like to be an architect that specializes in space-efficient homes, and I hope that I will be able to continue to use the principles I learned from puzzles like tangrams. (To view one of the tiny house that I built, please see here.)
It is difficult to quantify the effect that Martin Gardner has had on my life, but suffice it to say that I am a much happier person because I discovered his works.        — Tyler Rodgers, high school senior, Charleston, SC (25 Feb 2014).
Testimonial 44: Ira Strauss
"Looking back, Martin Gardner was the source of the best philosophical paper I wrote. It was on mental traps in politics and philosophy, vicious circles, and the theory of types. It ran through what at first sight is a curious melange of topics–the philosophical slavery of vicious circles, pointed out by all the empiricist philosophers from Hobbes and Locke and Hume to Mill and Russell. The way they proposed out of the vicious circles. Russell's paradox as a summarize form for all the vicious circles, and his theory of types as an attempt to put the criticisms of the vicious circles on a rigorous, compelling foundation. Also, the closely related views of all these writers on political-religious tyranny and the way out. Vicious circles as an instrument of authoritarian control over the mind. Their empiricism as a liberation. Their tendency to a federative view of politics. Russell's criticisms of the vicious circles of nationalism that are used to confine thinking to within fixed established political spaces; Russell's political goal of world federation.... Martin Gardner was the original source of my love for this subject.
Starting with his Annotated Alice, a favorite book of my childhood, and moving on to some of his other writings. His delight in spinning out paradoxes, and then in unraveling them. I experienced his solution to a paradox as a liberation from a mental trap. I suppose I could imagine a sorry fate for a mind that got tied up in the paradoxes, tempted by settling into the trap for the mind with its release from the need for further thinking, wrapped up in the guilty pleasures of the paradoxical mysteries, and then in some faith that gets attached to it, unable to think its way out of the hole, resistant to even being shown the way out.
So I later appreciated Russell's comments, when I read them, about how anyone with a feeling of kindliness toward young people would want to show them the way out and keep them free of the vicious circles of faith. It must be this that predisposed me to welcome the more far-reaching liberation that I found in the empiricist philosophers, when they provided general formulations for the way out of the traps—intertwined traps—of the several layers of faith systems, political, religious, and philosophical.
It seemed to me that this liberation from mental traps was the crux of the vast complex philosophical-political argument that each of the empiricist philosophers was making. Showing that there is a common thread, hitherto not fully noticed, running through the core of the systems of the liberal-empiricist philosophers. In this common thread of disentangling the vicious circles and liberating people from their bondage, Martin Gardner did the great work of bringing it to the people, entertaining them along their ways into and out of the traps. I owe him a debt of gratitude."        — Ira Strauss, U.S. Coordinator, Committee on Eastern Europe and Russia in NATO, Falls Church, VA (21 Feb 2014)
Testimonial 43: Andy Magid
The esteem with which mathematics was held in America, and the government financial support which it enjoyed, from the Sputnik launch which started it to the Mansfield amendment which ended it, has become difficult to remember for those who lived it and impossible to explain to subsequent generations.
Although Americans admired mathematics in those years, they didn't understand it any better than they do now. Martin Gardner's columns in Scientific American addressed that gap: he put some real mathematics out where people could participate in it. One never knows about roads not taken, but the validation of mathematics that Gardner's writings conferred certainly was at least a tacit component in confirming my choice as a schoolboy of becoming a mathematician.        — Andy Magid, Fellow, American Mathematical Society, George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK (20 Feb 2014)
Testimonial 42: Dan Jarratt
Martin Gardner taught me about relativity when I was in grade school. The book occupies a proud place on my shelf even now.        — Daniel C. Jarratt, Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of Minnesota, MN, and vice president of research at PossibilityU (14 Feb 2014)
Testimonial 41: Gary Antonick
I discovered Martin Gardner as a middle-schooler and devoured his "Mathematical Games" column for years, ultimately hunting down past issues and many books. The Oct 1970 Scientific American featuring Conway's Game of Life somehow altered my DNA, ultimately leading to my first (and only) real entrepreneurial gig: a cellular automata venture with the Harvard Med School.
I never met Martin, but had the good fortune to be introduced to his archives at Stanford University by the archivist himself, Stan Isaacs. Detailed line drawings, lengthy hand-written notes, paper cut-outs, typed and hand-corrected letters: thousands of relationships preserved in dozens of impeccably-organized boxes. Holding these documents is unexpectedly moving. Martin didn't just reply to letters–he pushed forward with questions, introductions, and his own thoughtful analysis. He cared about ideas, but also cared about many individual people of varying backgrounds and interests. He profoundly connected with each one. For this he will always be an inspiration to me.        — Gary Antonick, Stanford University Visiting Scholar and author of The New York Times Numberplay blog (13 Feb 2014)
Testimonial 40: Pradeep Mutalik
When I first encountered Martin Gardner’s columns in Scientific American as a schoolboy many years ago, my reaction was one of awe. Here was pure intelligence incarnate, I thought, coming up with puzzles of mind-bending difficulty month after month and explaining the ideas behind them with crystal clarity. I was convinced that Martin Gardner was the smartest man in the world. The profusion of his writings, their quality and the sheer length of time that he kept on producing them, month after month, were just mind-boggling. When he retired from Scientific American in 1981, I was convinced that no one could fill his shoes. And so it proved to be.
It is a tribute to Martin Gardner’s oeuvre that the final considered impression that he left in me is not very different from the one seen through the eyes of a hero-worshiping adolescent. Martin Gardner's interests—puzzles, magic, skepticism, science and philosophy—are all characteristics of a mind that had the deep desire and the ability to get to the bottom of things: the rare mind of a gifted truth-seeker.
It is perhaps because of a subconscious desire to emulate my hero that I authored the weekly puzzle blog in the New York Times (the TierneyLab puzzle and Numberplay) for three years. The experience has only increased my admiration for the greatness of the man.
Let us, in our own small way, continue his great work.        — Pradeep Mutalik, Yale scientist and founder (and author 2009-2012) of the New York Times puzzle blog "Numberplay" (9 Feb 2014).
Testimonial 39: John Sidles
"Martin Gardner brought mathematics to life for me (literally) with his Scientific American column for October 1970, 'The fantastic combinations of John Conway's new solitaire game "life".' In this and many other Scientific American columns, Gardner brought mathematics to life by showing everyone—beautifully and gracefully—that mathematics is partially about logical facts, and yet equally, mathematics is about how we understand these facts. As with mathematics, so too with science, medicine, engineering, and even philosophy...Martin Gardner's mathematical vision shows us universal values."        — John Sidles, medical researcher and quantum systems engineer, Seattle, WA (4 Feb 2014)
Testimonial 38: John Read
I first encountered Martin Gardner as a 12 year old when in 1977 I picked up and borrowed a battered copy of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions in a library in Grimsby. It sparked a love of mathematical puzzles and recreational maths, improved how well I did in maths at school, and was one of the inspirations that led me to a career in Engineering.
For decades I knew no one else who shared this interest, but in the last few years, through Twitter, I have met many similar people, and through Mathsjam—inspired by Gathering 4 Gardner—we share our recreational maths interest monthly in the pub and annually at a conference.
That small battered library paperback, which I bought my own copy of just a couple of years later, is still a favourite.        — John Read, chartered civil and structural engineer, Nottingham, England (1 Feb 2014)
Testimonial 37: Ethan Brown
I am currently a 9th grader at Phillips Academy, in Andover, MA. Sadly, I never did get a chance to meet Martin Gardner, but his legacy has had an enormous influence on me. When I was in 5th grade, I was first exposed to the "fun" side of Mathematics via an online Mathemagics performance by Dr. Arthur Benjamin. I was hooked. Only a few months later, I performed a far simplified version for my school talent show and only a month after that, I was invited onstage to join Art Benjamin at The World Science Festival in New York City.
Fast forward about two years and dozens of performances later and I was honored to be a part of the Saturday night show at Gathering 4 Gardner in 2012 where I was able to truly witness and appreciate Martin Gardner's influence first hand. I will never forget the experiences I had with that wonderful, eclectic, brilliant group of people who all joined together specifically to share in the joys of Martin's legacy.
A few years ago, I was working on developing a new mathematical "trick" for my stage show. I found the inspiration from Martin's 1956 book Mathematics, Magic and Mystery. I took one of his math tricks, added some magic, comedy, horn honking, loose change and a few audience volunteers to create what I call 'The Impossible Algebra Problem.' More than one grade schooler has told me after a show that they can't wait to learn algebra now. I hope Martin would have taken pride in that. I know I do.
While I am still a teenager, one of my goals in life is to show the world that mathematics is fascinating, fun, and accessible. I continue to do live performances regularly, but I draw inspiration directly from Martin Gardner every week when I write a post for my blog Cool Math Stuff.
As I look around I see people like Art Benjamin, Vi Hart, Colm Mulcahy, Danica McKellar and many others showing the world just how much fun mathematics can be. I draw inspiration and guidance from each and every one of them. But before all of them was Martin Gardner.        — Ethan Brown, 9th grader and budding mathemagician, Andover, MA (1 Feb 2014)
Testimonial 36: Alvy Ray Smith
Martin helped rescue me from a cultural desert island when I was a boy in a small town in New Mexico. I discovered his Scientific American column in the local library, the only source of books in the town. I fell in love with mathematics largely due to that column, and with fine illustration art, always a feature of Scientific American.
Then in 1970 I got to meet my hero! I had just completed my PhD at Stanford with a dissertation on cellular automata (CA) and had taken up my first professorship at NYU. The Game of Life issue of Scientific American appeared and thrilled me because the Game of Life was a CA special case. But it was clear that Martin didn't know that. So I called him or wrote him (I don't remember which) in Croton on Hudson and told him about CA, their ability to support self-reproducing machines, their Garden of Eden, the fact that John von Neumann coinvented them, etc.
The Game of Life issue of Scientific American was so popular that the publisher decided to do a second issue. Martin visited me for a full day at NYU and milked my brain, never taking notes. When he sent me his next column to vet, I noticed that he had got everything exactly right, despite his modest 'I'm just a philosopher' disclaimer. He asked me to submit a cover design for that Feb 1971 Scientific American issue. I did and my design was accepted and used. I got my first taste of what international fame feels like from this "game of life" event with Martin, my hero.        — Alvy Ray Smith, computer graphics pioneer and cofounder of Pixar (31 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 35: Bill Gasarch
In High School I went to the public library looking for math books that I could read. (This was before Al Gore invented the internet.) I found Martin Gardner's books and read them eagerly. The first proof I can recall learning on my own was in one of his columns–it was that (in today's terminology) a graph is Eulerian iff every vertex is of even degree. I read about NIM games which I've used in classes and projects, I read about the unexpected hanging paradox which confused me then (and now) and about herc-hydra games which connect to deep theorems in logic.
Currently I am a professor of Computer science at the Univ of Maryland; however, I still read his books and I still get things out of them. I have also reviewed the Gathering 4Gardner books for my SIGACT NEWS book review column. In 2009 I reviewed three of Martin Gardner's books that were being reprinted. I postal mailed him the reviews to comment on. He noted some typos but overall liked them. He passed away a few months later. I was glad to have had some contact, albeit minimal, with the man who inspired me.        — Bill Gasarch, computer scientist, College Park, MD (31 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 34: Mark Burstein
Like so many, I first fell under Martin’s spell when I was a kid in the ’50s and early ’60s. His Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery, along with Clifton Fadiman’s Mathematical Magpie, were favorite reading, and Martin’s Scientific American columns and book anthologies inspired lifelong devotion to the beauty of mathematics and geometry, even if I could only get through half of the column in those days. I also very much loved his columns on wordplay.
But it was The Annotated Alice which had the most profound effect on my life, acknowledging how my favorite children’s book was, in fact, an unfathomably deep musing on the paradoxes, nonsense, and humor of life itself. From college days, when I switched from a mathematics major to an independent study to immerse myself more intensely into Carroll’s world, through a collecting phase, and into today when I serve as the president of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, it has never left my side. I was also the editor of the Society’s magazine, Knight Letter, for many years and that is when Martin and I began corresponding. You cannot imagine the mixture of humility and exhilaration I felt when I recently received an offer from his son Jim and W. W. Norton to edit and art-direct an updated version for spring of 2015 to be called the The Annotated Alice: The Deluxe 150th Anniversary Edition (Wonderland was first published in 1865).
When he passed in 2010, I felt no simple obituary in our magazine could begin to express our appreciation for what his books and articles had done for Carrollian studies, not to mention that he and his wife Charlotte were founding members of our Society. What began as a festschrift ended up an anthology of essays, a biography, a bibliography, and more, and was called A Bouquet for the Gardener: Martin Gardner Remembered, featuring contributions by Jim Gardner, Douglas Hofstadter, Scott Kim, Morton Cohen, David Singmaster, Ray Smullyan, and the like.
When I spoke at G4GX, in a talk called "Martin and Lewis" I mentioned that my three "desert island books" were Nabokov’s Ada, Gardner’s Annotated Alice, and Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Martin is in all of them: coincidentally as an annotation in the Wake (p. 266), and deliberately as a private joke in Ada (p. 542).
We corresponded over the years, but never met, which I deeply regret. However, I did name my son after him and hope that he too will come to appreciate the incredible genius, generous nexus, and warm humanitarian who was his namesake.        — Mark Burstein, President of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, Petaluma, CA (31 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 33: Jeffrey Bennett
Martin Gardner's writings had a great influence on me. I started with the Annotated Alice in middle school, and then read many of his Scientific American writings. His book The Relativity Explosion had a particular influence, and I credit it as the inspiration for my own book on relativity coming out next month (What is Relativity? Columbia University Press). It's nice to see so many other testimonials here, showing the multiplier effect of a great communicator like Martin.        — Jeffrey Bennett, astronomer, teacher and writer, Boulder, CO (31 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 32: Benjamin Radford
Although I met Martin only once in person, I worked with him as his editor for his Skeptical Inquirer column for about eight years. When I first started with the magazine, I knew who he was by reputation, but I don’t think it was until later, as I was reintroduced to his columns and earlier work, that I really gained a true appreciation for his genius.
I remember getting a column from Martin for the first time. To be honest, I don’t remember what the topic was, but I do remember being slightly annoyed. You see, it was typewritten and photocopied (with a few handwritten editorial corrections). I was used to e-mailed attachments and columns submitted on CDs and floppy discs–what was this typewritten stuff? As the years went on I came to treasure and look forward to seeing his three-page, double-spaced columns in the dark black, old-school typewriter font. It reminded me of good, old-fashioned skepticism. It reminded me of notes and letters my grandfather—a veteran journalist and skeptic himself—would write to me when I was a teenager.
One thing I learned from Martin, albeit indirectly, was how skeptical research and investigation can make a real difference in people’s lives. It’s all well and good to write skeptically about UFOs or ghosts in the abstract, but it’s a different matter when you’re dealing with real people and real problems.
One day in 2000 I got a call at the office from a man at a payphone somewhere in Arizona. The man had a soft voice—he sounded like he was in his early fifties—and wanted some information on an article he had read a long time ago in the Skeptical Inquirer but didn’t have an issue date or year. “It’s an article by Martin Gardner,” he said. “It’s on a cult.” I told him that I’d try to locate the article and issue and forward his call to the front desk where he could purchase the issue, if he wished.
“No, no,” he said. “I need it now. Can you fax it to me?”
While I was willing and able to help, it seemed like a bit of a steep request to stop what I was doing, look through two dozen back issues, find the article, and fax it to the man, long distance, at our expense! Besides, I was skeptical that the payphone would be able to receive the fax. And what was the urgency anyway?
The man put another quarter in the phone and explained that he feared that his younger brother was becoming involved in a cult. He was driving out to see his brother and was desperately trying to think of ways to reason with him. He remembered that Martin had written a column on the cult years before and hoped the information would provide skeptical facts and criticisms. He was calling from outside a copy shop with the shop’s fax number handy so he could receive the fax there and go see his brother armed with more than just concerns. I hung up the phone, sifted through the back issues on my shelf, copied the relevant pages, and faxed them off. I never heard back from the man; I hope he was able to reason with his brother using Martin’s work, and I liked the idea that Martin’s keen mind and research might help save a man’s life.
I shared this story with Martin last year as I was preparing my latest book, to which Martin kindly contributed, and he was very pleased indeed. Martin kept working and writing and corresponding to the very end of his life. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but Martin may have; if he’s there, he’s certainly earned his rest.        — Benjamin Radford, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry & Skeptical Inquirer magazine, and author (30 Jan 2014, originally published in Skeptical Inquirer, Sep 2010).
Testimonial 31: Rudy Rucker
For my generation of scientists, Martin Gardner was a wise and beloved father figure. From 1956 to 1981 he published a monthly column on 'Mathematical Games' in the Scientific American—turning wild mathematical arcana into puzzles and games. And he published scores of books. He returned over and over to certain topics: curved space, the fourth dimension, number puzzles, and Alice in Wonderland.
Oddly enough, he had no mathematical training at all–he’d never taken a college course in the subject. As he once remarked to me, 'I’m like a person who loves music and enjoys listening to it, but who doesn’t compose or even play very well.'
When he retired from Scientific American, I arranged to interview him at his house for a magazine profile (you can read the 1981 article online). The graying Martin was kindly and sharp. Immediately he showed me a magic trick where he made a coin move right through a sheet of latex rubber that he’d stretched tight over a shot-glass. He claimed he’d made the coin move through the fourth dimension.
I begged him for the secret, and he showed me how to work the trick. And the next morning he lent me a box of rare books on the fourth dimension that I could use for researching my own book on this topic.
Although Martin was also known for his blasts against pseudoscience, he was fascinated by religion and metaphysics. The very last time I spoke to him on the phone he was showing off his newly learned ability to speak in tongues. He’d gotten curious about the topic and, being Martin, had mastered it.
He was a fascinating and warm-hearted man, always learning, always in flux—a benign trickster who cajoled thousands of us into scientific careers.        — Rudy Rucker, author and professor, Los Gatos, CA (30 Jan 2014, from Time magazine, 2010)
Testimonial 30: John Allen Paulos
Like so many other mathematicians (and others) I was influenced, nay inspired and enchanted, by Martin Gardner’s books and columns. I was gratified to have a couple of my books blurbed by him and to have the honor of blurbing a couple of his. Although I never had the privilege of meeting him, we did once have a mail correspondence. I was working on my first book, Mathematics and Humor, and had the temerity to write him about it. He responded most graciously and we exchanged a few jokes, some of them mathematical, which I expected, but some of them "dirty," which I didn’t. Both types delighted me as did the totality of Gardner’s impressive oeuvre.        — John Allen Paulos, author and mathematician, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.
Testimonial 29: Keith Devlin
In 1983, The Guardian newspaper (for which I had written three one-off, guest articles on mathematics) asked me if I would be their first ever mathematical columnist. Could I write a 700-word article every two weeks?, they asked. I said yes on the spot (everything was done by phone back then), then panicked. Could I really come up with an engaging math column every fourteen days?
I promptly went to the university library, and made photocopies of every Martin Gardner 'Mathematical Games' article they had published, going back to the start of his column in 1956–having read most of the later ones at one time or another. Though I think that pile of well-thumbed photocopies eventually got thrown out in one move or other, for many years they were always to hand. Not to copy his ideas or his style–that would be to set up a comparison in which I would definitely come off worse. Rather to gain continual inspiration that, properly presented, almost any part of mathematics can be made engaging and entertaining.
One of my proudest ever moments was in 1987, when Martin wrote a lengthy—and glowing—review in the New York Review of Books of my first major 'popular mathematics' book Mathematics: the New Golden Age. Lots of folks get PhDs in math. But public acknowledgment of mathematical writing by the master of the craft is much, much rarer. In a subsequent mail exchange, Martin told me the magazine had not commissioned the review; he had bought the book and liked it, and simply wrote his review and sent it in.
All of us who dare to aim our writing at 'the general reader' follow as best we can in Martin's footsteps. He is the Archimedes of mathematical writing.        — Keith Devlin, mathematician, author, and "The Math Guy" on NPR, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA (25 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 28: Larry Krakauer
"I don't think I really understood science until, still in high school, I read Gardner's classic book, Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. Only then did I appreciate one of the most important aspects of the scientific method: it needs to guard against experimenter self deception. Hence the brilliant physicist Richard Feynman's definition of science, 'Science is a way of not fooling yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.' Although Gardner's book primarily addresses pseudo-science, along the way he gives examples of well intended scientific experiments which went wrong. Reading the book, I was very impressed by how easy it is for a scientist to inadvertently deceive himself. This prepared me to better understand cases in which this occurred later in my life. One of these was 'polywater,' a hypothetical polymerized form of water 'discovered' by Russian researchers in the late 1960's. The supposed unusual properties of this material turned out to be entirely illusory. Similarly, more recently, a mechanism was proposed for what became called 'cold fusion.' This provoked quite a bit of excitement, but ultimately turned out to be nothing.
Gardner's book made me appreciate the difficulties of doing scientific experiments properly. I hadn't gotten that depth of understanding by being taught the scientific method in high school. And despite engineering being based on science (as an engineer, I view myself as a sort of 'applied scientist'), I wasn't taught these things at MIT either. In fact, I think this is something that most people never learn, and our public discourse about science suffers because of it.
I've put these thoughts down in much more depth in a blog entry called 'Science', which shows a picture of the cover of the 1957 paperback version of Gardner's book, and reviews a number of the cases he discussed in it. I followed this up with 'Science (bis)', explaining why I think that science is in fact the only source we have of genuinely reliable information.
Thus, in addition to all the pleasure I got out of Gardner's 'Mathematical Games' column, I owe my understanding of science to Mr. Gardner."        — Lawrence J. Krakauer, retired electrical engineer (24 Jan, 2014)
Testimonial 27: Derek Smith
"I have a boxed set (A Gathering of Gardner) of three Gardner books that I absolutely prized during my college years. I took the set with me to Budapest for a semester, and the next summer to an REU program, where another student borrowed it for two weeks, reading every page and along the way deciding that she in fact didn't need to be a mathematician to enjoy math recreationally. The last I heard, she was a skydiving instructor.
My daughter just finished a middle school project: she built a very nice model of a siege machine, based on one of Leonardo Da Vinci's sketches. After she finished it, I told her that she should have made the flush toilet instead, based on one of Da Vinci's sketches that Gardner presented in his column, 'Six Sensational Discoveries,' probably my favorite chapter from the collection."        — Derek Smith, mathematician and author, Lafayette College, Easton, PA (24 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 26: Shecky Riemann
"As much as I enjoyed Martin's recreational math, what I MOST enjoyed were his always-lucid essays... on philosophy, science, culture. My favorite Gardner book, that I recommend to ANYone not familiar with it is, "The Night Is Large"–a wonderful anthology of his essays over almost a 60-year period. I was thrilled that in his autobiography he also cited this collection as one of his two best works. His mind seemed to know no bounds... an American gem."        — Shecky Riemann, math blogger (22 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 25: Tim Chartier
"To me, it often seems that I came to the work of Martin Gardner late as compared to many. When I encountered his writing, it was as if I had found a mathematical home that had been awaiting me. As a professionally trained mime and puppeteer who then decided to get a PhD in Applied Math, much of my youth was absorbed with fantasy, humor and playful explorations. The creativity and aesthetics of mathematical proof attracted me to the field of math. I loved the sense of surprise in math discovery. This was something I wanted to share with my artistic friends.
In time, I found ways to do this and now have a mime show that introduces mathematical ideas. When I encountered Martin Gardner's work, I was profoundly struck with his sense of welcome, warmth, wit, and wisdom. Soon, I was sharing Martin Gardner's work to engage my friends who approach math with skepticism. I also shared it with my mathematically inclined friends so they joined the mathematical party, if you will.
Martin Gardner was an artist of mathematical writing. His work stands and will continue to stand the test of time. It is a springboard for others. I can gaze and contemplate his work over and over and see new things and create new ideas. While I didn't know Martin Gardner, I always imagine a smile on his face at the many ways the world is engaged in celebrating the mind with wit and wisdom."        — Tim Chartier, mathematician and mime, Davidson College, TN (21 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 24: Cliff Pickover
"As I once wrote in a letter to Skeptical Inquirer, I would like to add my voice to the chorus of others that praise the late, great Martin Gardner. He was always extremely kind to me as we chatted by mail over the years, and he provided jacket blurbs for a majority of my 45 books. I dedicated one of my recent books, The Math Book, to him, and not long before he died, he told me he was honored that I had included his Scientific American 'Mathematical Games' column as one of the 250 great milestones in mathematics.
The authors of Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays wrote that Martin Gardner 'brought more mathematics to more millions than anyone else.' Allyn Jackson, Deputy Editor of the Notices of the American Mathematics Society, wrote that Gardner, 'opened the eyes of the general public to the beauty and fascination of mathematics and inspired many to go on to make the subject their life’s work.' Indeed several famous concepts in math were first brought to world attention through Gardner’s works before they appeared in other publications.
Each year, as I begin to write my next popular mathematics book, I gaze at my bookshelves filled with books by Martin Gardner, and I chant to myself, 'What has Martin not already done? What hasn’t he done?' Yes, Gardner is my hero and my inspiration, and his articles, books, and kind and humble approach to life will leave a mark upon the world forever."        — Clifford A. Pickover, author, Yorktown Heights, NY (20 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 23: Eve Torrence
"My father was a social psychologist and he gave me Fads and Fallacies to read as a teen. I loved it, I was a born skeptic. Martin Gardner was a hero in our house growing up, but I had no idea he wrote about mathematics. I didn't discovery Martin's mathematical writing until I was an adult. I might have discovered my true mathematical proclivities much sooner if I had been exposed to his mathematical writing earlier. My dad read Scientific American and he had a mathematically talented child. I wonder why he never handed me that column."        — Eve Torrence, mathematician and president of Pi Mu Epsilon, Randolph-Macon College, VA (20 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 22: Woody Dudley
"When I was getting ready to write Mathematical Cranks I wrote to Martin asking if maybe he could supply or refer me to sources. He didn't know me, so I was amazed by his reply, telling me to come on down to Hendersonville and go through his files. I did. What amazing files they were! A whole room, with library shelves, filled with wonderful material, which was only to be expected because he was a wonderful man."        — Underwood Dudley, mathematician (20 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 21: Susan Goldstine
"The books of Martin Gardner's Scientific American columns were my bedtime reading when I was growing up. I spent countless happy hours pondering his puzzles and playing his games. To this day, my highest career aspiration is to make math as tangible and joyful as he did."        — Susan Goldstine, math professor, mathematical artist, and artistic mathematician, St. Mary's College of Maryland, MD (19 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 20: Scott Kim
"When I was a kid I read every mathematical puzzle book in the library. When I reached Gardner's books I knew I had hit a gold mine. Soon I subscribed to Scientific American, and every month eagerly awaited news of the latest astonishing developments in recreational mathematics. When I entered university I quickly found the recreational mathematics crowd, including mathematician/magician Persi Diaconis and my mentor computer scientist Donald Knuth. With their encouragement, I started contributing original puzzles and mathematics to Gardner's column. Following in Gardner's footsteps, I became a creator of mathematical puzzles, writing my own magazine columns, books, and games.
In Gardner's world, mathematics is a lively, joyous, beautiful sport, open to all. Inspired by that vision, I eagerly applied to mathematics graduate schools. Unfortunately when I visited the schools I found that academic mathematics was a dry and elite pursuit that made no attempt to reach a wider audience. So I switched directions and made up my own degree in Computers and Graphic Design. Others in Gardner's sphere have found their own ways to create mathematical utopia — Ed Pegg with mathpuzzle.com, Kate Jones with Kadon Enterprises, George Hart with the Bridges Art Math conference, Bill Ritchie with ThinkFun, and Vi Hart, with her viral math videos Doodling in Math Class. I am now engaged in bringing the joy of recreational mathematics to young children through educational games.
My favorite story about Gardner is remarkable because it is so common. In high school I wrote my first letter to Gardner, explaining my attempt to make progress solving Fermat's Last Theorem — the most notorious unsolved math problem at that time. Understand that university math professors often get long letters from amateur mathematicians saying that they have found a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, and need it verified. Occasionally professors will take the time to find the error in the proof and write back, but most of the time they simply ignore such mail, the same way a physics professor would ignore letters from amateur physicists claiming to have invented a perpetual motion machine. In any case Gardner wrote back within a few days with a brief but thoughtful postcard. He remarked that he didn't know enough mathematics to comment on my work, but recommended I read a certain book, which I did right away. Only later did I learn how remarkable it was that Gardner had nurtured my interest rather than dismissing it. Virtually every Gardner fan I have met has told me a similar story. Over the years Gardner's generous and enthusiastic correspondence built a worldwide web of mathematics enthusiasts that persists to this day. We all owe him a lot."        — Scott Kim, puzzlemaster, Burlingame, CA (19 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 19: Owen O'Shea
"I have had the privilege of corresponding with Martin Gardner for about twenty years. I have also had the privilege of reading and re-reading his many wonderful books on recreational mathematics, and indeed on other topics also. Martin was a most learned man. In addition he was a most generous and kind human being. When Underwood Dudley and I authored The Magic Numbers of The Professor, Martin very kindly offered to write the foreword to the book. I was honoured that he chose to do so.
Martin was not just a brilliant journalist who wrote articles concerning mathematics. He was much more than that! Martin was the most brilliant expositor of a multitude of topics in recreational mathematics. He also had a life-long interest in conjuring. This interest in magic helped Martin to view the universe as a kind of mysterious magic trick performed by Nature, and fostered his belief that it is the business of all rational minds to attempt to understand how this marvelous, wondrous and gigantic trick works.
Martin constantly stood in awe at the majesty of the universe, and in our many phone conversations often referred to the super-ultimate question: Why should there be something, rather than nothing? He believed that that question-though probably unanswerable-was meaningful.
Martin considered it a wonderful privilege to exist-for a relatively tiny period of time-in this vast, mysterious, ancient and beautiful universe.
I can honestly say that it is a wonderful privilege for me to have known a human being such as Martin.        — Owen O'Shea, lover of puzzles, numbers, magic, and generally all things mathematical, Cobh, Ireland (19 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 18: Donna Dietz
"Martin Gardner was a great inspiration to my 7th grade mathematics teacher, who went on to inspire me to become a mathematician. Albert Wukovits not only was my teacher, but from 6th grade to 8th grade, I entered the 'Mathletes' competitions he held. Since I always did well in these contests, every year, he gave me a prize. For 2 of the 3 years, the prizes were Sam Lloyd puzzle books edited by Martin Gardner. So, I believe myself to be a second generation MG fan, who would never have become a mathematician otherwise."        — Donna Dietz, mathematician and Rubik's cube enthusiast, American University, Washington, DC (18 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 17: Robert Lang
"As I was growing up in Georgia, Martin Gardner's books and columns introduced me to the beauty and joy of mathematics and led to a lifelong love of math (and served as effective antidote to the way it was presented in secondary school). Math, via Martin, led me to Caltech, to a technical career, and ultimately, to apply it to the art of origami (a subject Martin wrote about as well). And the rest is history."        — Robert J. Lang, origami artist and consultant, Alamo, GA (18 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 16: Bill Ritchie
"My dad was a big Martin Gardner fan, in our family he was a legendary figure from as early as I can remember. While his puzzles were too difficult for me as a 10 year old, I still remember being drawn to Martin and wanting to be associated with these ideas when I grew up. In a real and specific way, Martin was an inspiration for Andrea and I to start Binary Arts in 1985. By 1992 I had established a personal friendship with him (Martin’s openness was legendary, and very real). That year I visited him and Charlotte at their home in Hendersonville, and was working with him on several puzzle projects by the time of the first Gathering for Gardner in 1993… the thrill of my life! Martin has been and will always be one of my heroes."        — Bill Ritchie, ThinkFun president/co-founder, Alexandria, VA (17 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 15: Pete Winkler
"Growing up with Martin Gardner's "Mathematical Games" column helped make me a mathematician and certainly made me a puzzle fan. Now, as an author of puzzle collections, I appreciate even more Gardner's gift for bringing out the full beauty of a puzzle, trick or theorem— a combination of his literary grace, his generosity of spirit and his indefatigable thirst for answering the next question"        — Peter Winkler, mathematician and author, Dartmouth College, NH (16 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 14: Joe Turner
"It was inevitable that as an awkward young boy with an interest in puzzles, brainteasers, and magic tricks, I would encounter the works of Martin Gardner. After studying physics and theatre and eventually becoming a speaker and magician, I had the opportunity to visit Martin one afternoon in the small apartment where he spent the latter years of his life. Even in his 90’s, Martin didn’t hesitate to kneel down on the floor with me for some classical close-up magic sessioning, as seen in hotel lobbies worldwide when magicians gather at their own conventions.
To get a bit of praise or encouragement from him was like having a medal pinned on my chest. The unassuming genius quietly and steadily influenced generations of mathematicians and magicians through his prolific writing, but I’ll always treasure the day I met the kind and brilliant man himself."        — Joe M. Turner, magician, mentalist, and speaker, Atlanta, GA (16 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 13: Jeannine Mosely
"My father brought home the first two book collections of Martin's columns when I was in elementary school and I was immediately fascinated. I cut up pieces of cardboard and constructed the Platonic solids. My dad bought several sets of alphabet blocks and glued them together to make Soma cubes, and I explored the many ways to assemble them. Dad brought home rolls of adding machine tape and we made hexa-hexa-flexagons.
At school, my teacher had pronounced a ban on "fortune tellers" - the traditional origami model - whose clandestine, under-the-desk use was disrupting class. When I brought in a flexagon, my classmates warned me to hide it - I would get in trouble if I were caught! The teacher was furious when she first caught a glimpse of it, but after I showed her how it worked, she made me teach the whole class how to make them.
Martin Gardner revealed to us all the joy and beauty of mathematics, and inspired me to a lifelong interest in mathematics"        — Jeannine Mosely, mathematician and origami artist (16 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 12: Chris Morgan
"I only met Martin Gardner a few times over the years, but each encounter was unforgettable. I visited him for the last time in 2005. We spent the day trading magic tricks and discussing his life-long interest in conjuring. I brought my copy of his book, The First Scientific American Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions, and asked him to autograph it. It’s one of my treasured possessions. When I read it at age twelve, it inspired a life-long interest in mathematics. During our magic session, Martin showed me several rope tricks, two false deck cuts, a revolving card effect, some topological knot tricks, some rubber band tricks, and several mathematical card tricks – many of which have appeared in his writings over the years. Though he was a nonagenarian, he had the exuberance—and dexterity—of a twenty-year old. Before we knew it, the afternoon had flown by. In his diary, Lewis Carroll often referred to memorable days as “white stone” days. This was surely a white stone day for me."        — Chris Morgan, magician and computer scientist, Boston, MA (16 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 11: Bruce Reznick
Excerpted from Oct 2010 notes: "Like most of the people in this room, I read a lot when I was growing up, and the authors who wrote what I was reading had a huge influence on my view of the world. For mathematics, I mainly mean Martin Gardner, through his column in Scientific American and the books which collected and amplified those columns, and Constance Reid, through her amazing book From Zero to Infinity.
The authors of non-mathematical works who had the greatest influence on me were Martin Gardner, through his skeptical masterpiece Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, and Isaac Asimov, through his wide-ranging and endlessly erudite non-fiction. Those two, plus MAD magazine, gave me a suspicion of self-proclaimed authority which has served me well all my life.
I had other interests of course (my childhood heroes were Mickey Mantle and Jerry Lewis) but everything eventually returned to mathematics: I wondered how '6' could be considered a perfect number if it was on the back of Clete Boyer's Yankees uniform, while Mickey Mantle wore a '7'. What I absorbed unconsciously from Martin Gardner was that: (i) Other people found mathematics to be as much fun as I did, and they continued to do so when they grew up; (ii) They seemed to be able to have jobs which let them work mathematical problems; (iii) New mathematics was being found all the time.
We should all live so well for so long and do so much good for so many."        — Bruce Reznick, The John and Harriet J. Absentminded Professor of Mathematics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (15 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 10: Tanya Thompson
"I was too young to be one of the lucky ones who relished Martin’s columns as they were published. But as I started my career as a high school mathematics teacher who loved using recreational math problems, games and puzzles in my classroom, I discovered Martin’s work through his extensive publications. You can imagine my excitement when I became friends with Martin when he was in his nineties. It began with regular phone calls and then an invitation to visit which then became my annual pilgrimages. I have many fond memories of Martin sharing his vast knowledge and his many magic tricks with me. But the thing I most remember, is how this man who was such an icon, welcomed in an amateur and spent time with her, and treated her like a friend. I still miss him greatly and am honored to help spread his legacy through Chairing the Gathering for Gardner, Celebration of Mind committee."        — Tanya Thompson, Head of Inventor Relations for ThinkFun, lover of puzzles, board games and mathematics (Jan 15, 2014)
Testimonial 9: George Hart
"As a kid, I read Martin Gardner's Scientific American column each month, then soon discovered ones I had missed were available in book form. They really taught me how to think like a mathematician and opened my eyes to many creative and fun aspects of math. So much fun that I remember getting in trouble in school because of Martin. After reading the hexaflexagon column, I made lots of paper versions, then made a large aluminum one by cutting out sheet metal triangles and hinging them together with yellow duct tape. I brought it to school and was proudly showing my friends it six sides when a teacher (who I'm sure had no idea what it was) took it away from me and I never got it back. I still remember viscerally how it felt and sounded to flex it though its different magic-markered colors. And I sometimes like to imagine that it was passed down to her grandchildren, still playing with it and enjoying Martin Gardner's legacy..."        — George Hart, mathematician and sculptor, Stony Brook, NY (15 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 8: Daina Taimina
"I grew up in Riga, Latvia. I first learned about Martin Gardner and fun with mathematics when I won my first math Olympiad in 6th grade and my teacher gave me as a present a little book, just published in Latvian - Matemātikas brīnumi un noslēpumi (Mathematics, Magic and Mystery). There are still only two books by Martin Gardner that are translated into Latvian (the other one is Relativity Theory for Everyone). The other books by Martin Gardner on my bookshelf in Riga were all in Russian. All those books are partly responsible for me becoming a mathematician (like for many others).
Unfortunately university mathematics was nothing like the exiting topics from Gardner's books, so I was discouraged to become a research mathematician. Instead I decided to become a teacher so that I can teach mathematics in fun and accessible ways. My teaching carrier in school was not too long 5 years as part time job. Most of my teaching has happened in of universities University of Latvia and Cornell University. And I did end up with PhD in Mathematics but that is another story.
Martin Gardner is certainly responsible that I always tried to make math visual and tangible, and wrote my own book for general audience about mathematics, Crocheting Adventures with the Hyperbolic Planes."        — Daina Taimina, mathematician, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (15 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 7: Colm Mulcahy
"As a teenager growing up in Dublin in the 1970s, I got two of his Scientific American books, and became entralled with the solid with circular, triangular and square cross sections, the proof of the impossibility of a cube built from differently-sized smaller cubes, and the lateral thinking required to solve the monkey and the coconuts problem. Then such 'frivolities' were quickly set aside, as formal mathematical studies took over my life: epsilons and deltas, axioms of algebra (and choice), and so on.
Several decades passed by before I rediscovered the elegance, simplicity, and depth of his writing, and most importantly, the validity of his approach to mathematics. Then, in due course, I had the great pleasure of meeting him in his old age. He was nothing like the stern-looking man on all those book covers: in reality he was a sweet-natured, kind, wise and modest to a fault, with a twinkle in his eye, and a total joy to be with. While I can't say that Martin's columns or books steered the early course of my life, his extraodinarily diverse written legacy, his devotion to learning, his generous sharing of his toys, and his sheer decency, all conspired to reset my course in midlife.
He was also extremely egalitarian and generous with his time: he didn’t care if you were a prince or a pauper, if you had an interesting idea then he wanted to know about it, and he’d encourage you to get it in front of others. In a sense he was the original (mathematical) community organizer, at a time when it was neither profitable nor popular.
Now, Mathematics Awareness Month 2014, which is obviously inspired by him, will help to fire up a new generation of youngsters, alerting them to the singular joy of problem solving and rational thinking, and leading them to their own Aha! moments.
Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann (his like will not be seen again)."        — "Card Colm" Mulcahy, mathematician and card tadpole, Spelman College & American University (15 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 6: Susan Wildstrom
"As a kid I was a hexaflexagon freak all because of that fortuitous first(?) column. As a teacher, whenever I teach kids to make them now, they have another burst of popularity. He was definitely a father of ‘math for the fun of it all’!"        — Susan Schwartz Wildstrom, teacher at Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda, MD (15 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 5: Victoria Skye
"I discovered Martin Gardner as an adult. I bought one of his books with math magic, puzzles and optical illusions and thirsted for more. I now have a shelf full of his books. They have been and continue to be a great source of inspiration for my magic and optical illusion creations including a Rubin's Vase illusion of Martin Gardner himself."        — Victoria Skye, professional magician and illusion artist, Atlanta, GA (15 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 4: John Miller
"In 1961, my 7th grade math teacher shared Martin's June 1961 Brain Teasers column with the class. I was hooked. After checking out previous columns in the library, I subscribed to Scientific American! Over the years, I used Study Hall time to go through previous MG columns.
In November 1967, Martin Gardner challenged readers to arrange 4 pairs of colored blocks in a certain way. He told readers that no solutions were possible with 5 or 6 pairs, but that there were 25 unique arrangements for 7 pairs (no references cited).
Early in 1968, as a college freshman, I programmed Langford's Problem on an IBM 1130 computer and found 26 (not 25!) solutions for n=7 and 150 solutions for n=8. Four others did likewise. Martin published these results in March 1968, thus beginning decades of correspondence as solutions for higher values of n were computed by myself and others. I now curate the web site on Langford's Problem.
I was interested in the popular culture in the early 60's, and had a very impressionable mind, so my first Dr. Matrix column was traumatic! I thought Martin was sometimes too skeptical, but now I believe his writings helped me become a rational adult."        — John Miller, quasi-retired computer scientist, free thinker, independent IOS developer, Portland, OR (15 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 3: Max Maven
"I can't remember exactly when I began reading Martin Gardner's 'Mathematical Recreations' columns; it's simpler to say that I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading those columns. My father was a physicist, so from my earliest childhood, Scientific American had a presence in our household, and somewhere in the late 1950s I became an fan, eagerly awaiting the arrival of each month's issue for the express purpose of devouring whatever odd and wonderful ideas Martin had chosen to share. Of all the people I have encountered during my life, precious few have informed and inspired me as much as Martin Gardner. One shelf of my library is devoted to Gardneriana, and I revisit his pages frequently."        — Max Maven, magician and mentalist, Los Angeles, CA (15 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 2: Jim Henle
"I invented a game and wrote a paper about it. That was a direct Gardner inspiration. My son and I wrote a paper inspired by two Martin Gardner columns (it was anthologized in the MAA book). That anthology was put together, in part, by my brother, Michael. My first mathematical memories center around Michael (he's the older brother) introducing me to the latest from Gardner's column. I learned about flexagons that way, and squaring the square, and a host of other delights. I sometimes say that I became a mathematician because of my older brother. The truth is probably that Gardner had a hand in both our choices."        — Jim Henle, mathematician, Smith College, Northampton, MA (15 Jan 2014)
Testimonial 1: Neil Calkin
"Growing up in the UK, in high school in the 70's, I remember when Scientific American was the first magazine I was ever allowed to buy on a regular basis: the "Mathematical Games" column was always the first thing I turned to. I particularly remember reading Martin's article on the RSA cryptosystem, and being introduced to the idea that number theory could be incredibly beautiful, and useful, at the same time: this was a year or more before I was to learn any of these ideas in a formal classroom. As with so many others, this helped turn me towards considering becoming a professional mathematician, long before my teachers would even consider the idea a possibility. I like particularly to think that a couple of the things I've done over the years might have brought a smile to Martin Gardner's face, and to his mind."        — Neil Calkin, professional mathematician, amateur origamist, and proselytiser of science, Clemson University, SC (14 Jan 2014)