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Science Luminary Martin Gardner Dead at 95 96

Posted by timothy
from the sad-to-note dept.
From James Randi's blog comes word that science writer Martin Gardner has died at the age of 95. I never met Gardner, but one of his books (Entertaining Science Experiments With Everyday Objects) has been a favorite of mine since I was 6 or 7 years old; I didn't realize until just now quite how many books he authored.
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Science Luminary Martin Gardner Dead at 95

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  • Re:Great author (Score:5, Informative)

    by DannyO152 (544940) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @09:37PM (#32310594)

    Let me put in a cheer for the "Alice in Wonderland" he annotated.

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @09:39PM (#32310612) Homepage

    Phil Plait has a writeup [discovermagazine.com] as well.

  • Re:Adieu, Martin (Score:3, Informative)

    by bth (635955) on Saturday May 22, 2010 @10:25PM (#32310838) Homepage
    I agree...his Scientific American articles brought out all the magic in mathematics.
  • Dr. Matrix (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 22, 2010 @10:52PM (#32310960)

    Gardner had a character called Dr. Matrix, an eccentric mathematician (perhaps not unlike the real life Paul Erdos, or Gardner himself) who popped up periodically in his columns. One I remember was Gardner interviewing Dr. Matrix in prison; seems the doc was busted for slicing twenty dollar bills into 20 strips, and "rearranging" them into modified bills composed of 19 strips each. Unfortunately, after that charming episode was published in Scientific American several people were similarly busted for copyright behavior... I suspect Mr. Gardner was amused rather than horrified by this turn of events.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @12:23AM (#32311334)

    Organic farming in and of itself isn't pseudoscience, but sometimes the claims made about it fall into that realm. Examples being that the products of organic farming are necessarily healthier for you, or better for the environment, or conversely, that the use of pesticides and genetic modification are necessarily detrimental. They can be or not be, and such claims have to be analyzed on an individual basis. But there does exist a large segment of the population that adheres to the naturalistic fallacy that what is "natural" is better for you than what isn't, despite straightforward counter-examples (all-natural poisonous mushrooms and berries), and despite the fact that "natural" in this context is not well-defined (is a domesticated food crop that has been genetically modified by hundreds of years of selective agricultural breeding considered "natural?").

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @01:50AM (#32311830)

    In memoriam, I dug up my copy of The Annotated Alice. Like others have mentioned, I think Gardner's research and interpretation add multiple dimensions to any reading of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

    If you can find a copy, it is well worth it. I purchased mine in Portland's Powell's bookstore for (so the inscribed price tells me) $6.95, many years ago.

    From the introduction:
    "Let it be said at once that there is something preposterous about an annotated Alice. Writing in 1932, on the hundred-year anniversary of Lewis Carroll's birth, Gilbert K. Chesterson voiced his "dreadful fear" that Alice's story had already fallen under the heavy hands of the scholars and was becoming "cold and monumental like a classic tomb."

    Gardner's version of Carroll's classic demonstrates that Alice's adventures are ongoing; that the Reverend Dodgson's imaginings are useful metaphors for the cutting edge of science today.

    Gardner was a relentless popularizer of mathematics and science. His article in Scientific American in 1970 exposed Conway's game of life to the world at large. In more recent years, false rumors of his death prompted the hosts of NPR's "Car Talk" to eulogize him, only to have him contradict those rumors and come back suggesting a "puzzler" for their audience to solve.

    There exists a tenuous philosophical link from Bertrand Russell to Martin Gardner, I wonder where it will continue from him?

    I seem to have written an obituary. So be it.

  • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:12AM (#32311914) Journal

    After he saw one of my first Klein Bottles

    Hey, Cliff Stoll! I remember thoroughly enjoying The Cukoo's Egg.
    For those who are unfamiliar with it, it's his late 80's account of tracking down a spy who had gained root access to Lawrence Berkeley.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 23, 2010 @12:04PM (#32314632)

    In memory of his death, Scientific American today republished a wonderful profile [scientificamerican.com] of Martin Gardner from the December, 1995 issue.
     
    They also reprinted 3 of his puzzles. [scientificamerican.com]

  • by nyri (132206) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @12:50PM (#32314974)

    Here are some links (provided to you via Arts and Letters Daily [aldaily.com]):

    The Associated Press [nwsource.com]
    Sci Am [scientificamerican.com]
    Discover [discovermagazine.com]
    James Randy [randi.org]
    Roger Kimball [pajamasmedia.com]

    The Man's last essay. [csicop.org] It's titeled Oprah Winfrey: Bright (but Gullible) Billionaire.

"Indecision is the basis of flexibility" -- button at a Science Fiction convention.

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