25 May 2010

MARTIN GARDNER HAS DIED

Martin Gardner was my guide as I wrote my Easter sermon of 2010, "Easter in 3-D! (Or, Believing Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast)" What a delightful man and delightful vocation! He has now died, and I remember him gratefully. Through the mercy of God, may his soul rest in peace.

Douglas Martin's obituary, in the New York Times, begins this way:

Martin Gardner, who teased brains with math puzzles in Scientific American for a quarter-century and who indulged his own restless curiosity by writing more than 70 books on topics as diverse as magic, philosophy and the nuances of Alice in Wonderland, died Saturday in Norman, Okla. He was 95.

...Mr. Gardner also wrote fiction, poetry, literary and film criticism, as well as puzzle books. He was a leading voice in refuting pseudoscientific theories, from ESP to flying saucers. He was so prolific and wide-ranging in his interests that critics speculated that there just had to be more than one of him.

His mathematical writings intrigued a generation of mathematicians, but he never took a college math course. If it seemed the only thing this polymath could not do was play music on a saw, rest assured that he could, and quite well.

“Martin Gardner is one of the great intellects produced in this country in the 20th century,” said Douglas Hofstadter, the cognitive scientist.

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