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Celebrations of Mind Honor Math’s Best Friend, Martin Gardner

Every fall provides a special excuse for all thinking people to celebrate recreational math, magic and rationality, some of the things that were dear to America’s greatest man of letters and numbers, former Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner (1914 ­– 2010), via Celebration of Mind events. While Gardner was without doubt the best friend mathematics [...]

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Unscientific Unamerican, and Other April Fools’ Jokes in SA History

The more complex the mind, the greater the need for play. Okay, I ripped that off from Star Trek, episode 15, but I like to think the conceit applies to the Scientific American community of readers, writers, editors and authors. Any fan of science and technology must have a curious mind. Of course, you probably [...]

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Flexagon but Not Forgotten: Celebrating Martin Gardner’s Birthday

October 21 is the anniversary of Martin Gardner’s birth. Gardner (1914-2010) is a legend in recreational (and professional) mathematics circles. Although he had little mathematical training, his 1956-1981 Scientific American column “Mathematical Games” has had a huge impact on the way people view math. In a Science Talk podcast shortly after Gardner’s death, Douglas Hofstadter, [...]

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Three puzzles from Martin Gardner (1914-2010)

News of Martin Gardner’s death began circulating on Saturday night. For those of you who are unfamiliar with his work, here’s a taste of the kinds of puzzles he was famous for bringing to the world. Of course, he did much more: 15 years ago, I had the great honor of meeting him and his [...]

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Roots of Unity

Graham’s Number Is Too Big for Me to Tell You How Big It Is

Behold, Graham's number!

I was going to write an April Fool’s Day post with the title “Mathematicians Declare Graham’s Number Equal to Infinity.” Graham’s number is really big, but of course, it’s precisely 0% as big as infinity. On the other hand, everything we touch is finite, so in some sense, Graham’s number is probably “close enough” to [...]

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