Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Unassuming Rock Star

This will likely be a month of a lot of Martin Gardner reminiscences on blogs, with the combination of his birthday approaching (10/21) and his new autobiography making the rounds (I've reviewed the autobio. twice over at MathTango: short review  &  long review ).

The most recent NY Times "Wordplay" puzzle column is dedicated to an old Gardner classic problem (Monkey and the Coconuts), but what I enjoy most about the column is hearing from Martin's son James who relays some brief memories of his famous dad:


James remarks at one point, in words that I've heard echoed by others:
“The thing I find fascinating — in some realms Dad was a rock star. He had groupies. People were excited to meet him. In other realms … if you were not enmeshed in his writing, you had no idea who he was."
I too always found this true. Over the years when I mentioned to friends that I was a Martin Gardner fan, the response was either along the lines of, 'Oh yeah, isn't that guy great!' or alternatively, 'Whooooooooo???' …or, on still other occasions, 'isn't he the guy that wrote those pages at the back of Scientific American for awhile?' …to which I always wanted to reply, 'Uhhh, yeah, sorta like that Einstein guy, who fiddled around with light for awhile, I guess'….

Also worth noting that The Aperiodical recently ran a podcast talking to Colm Mulcahy specifically about Gardner here:


In other notes, but still speaking of math popularizers, one of my favorite current ones, Richard Elwes, was recently interviewed here, promoting his most recent books:


And finally, as a heads-up, looks like I'll be hosting the November "Carnival of Math" so be thinking of posts (yours or others) you'd like to send along for inclusion (I'll probably be putting out a reminder each week through end-of-month). The submission page is here:


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