Famed mathematical puzzle master Martin Gardner died May 22 reports the New York Times. He was 95.
While I was in high school my father subscribed to Scientific American. I always looked forward to Gardner’s latest “Mathematical Games” column, something not easily explained for I spent a summer repeating Algebra 2 never having figured out when the train leaving Baltimore at a given time and speed would collide with the train leaving from New York. His famous column ran from 1956 to 1981. Gardner also wrote a “puzzle” story column for Asimov’s during George Scithers’ tenure as editor.
Gardner had a huge range of interests and many areas of expertise. Two prominent examples were evident in his literary research about the works of Lewis Carroll and his homages to L. Frank Baum.
His The Annotated Alice, originally published in 1960 and upgraded in two sequels, enjoyed a tremendous word-of-mouth reputation among science fiction fans in the 1970s.
He was a founding member of the International Wizard of Oz Club. He also wrote Visitors from Oz (1998), a collection of stories based on Baum’s creation.
Coincidentally, Gardner was a member of the all-male literary banqueting club the Trap Door Spiders which recently lost another member, George Scithers himself.
When I was a math major in the sixties, I got really excited when I found and proved the golden ratio in a pentagon. I wrote to Martin Gardner via Scientific American. A month later, I was flabbergasted when I received a note from him. Very nice.