Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 49

Martin Gardner - Youth and education, Recreational mathematics, Pseudoscience, Religious and philosophical interests, Literary criticism and fiction, Controversy

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Writer and mathematical games editor, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. He studied at the University of Chicago (1936 BA), became a reporter for the Tulsa Tribune, then worked in public relations for the University of Chicago. Becoming a contributing editor of Humpty Dumpty magazine (1952–62), he took on the work for which he was undoubtedly best known, a regular column with Scientific American (1957–81) called ‘Mathematical Games’, which for a quarter-century covered a broad range of intellectual diversions. Collecting and adding to his columns, he published a seemingly endless stream of books on mathematical puzzles, logical brainteasers, and philosophical and literary diversions. His first book, In the Name of Science (1952), sounded another of his favourite themes, his exposure of cults, fads, and fallacies in the sciences over the centuries. A practising magician (as well as musical saw player), he also attacked those who misused magical tricks to suggest some supernatural powers. Still another interest were his editions of well-known texts with his own footnotes explaining esoterica and curiosities: The Annotated Alice (1960), by Lewis Carroll; The Annotated Ancient Mariner (1965) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge; and The Annotated Casey at the Bat (1967), by Ernest L Thayer. He also wrote serious books on science, including Philosophical Foundations of Physics (1966), and a ‘metaphysical novel’, The Flight of Peter Fromm (1973).

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