Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Martin Gardner, mathematical games, & me

In my obit for Martin Gardner, I mentioned my teenage devotion to his Mathematical Games column in Scientific American, which I discovered in 1967 after picking up a copy of the magazine in my local drugstore. In his June 1968 column he proposed a problem concerning Baker's Solitaire, and followed up with readers' solutions in subsequent issues. My name appeared with several others in the September 1968 issue, but as these acknowledgments were not included when the column was anthologized in Mathematical Magic Show: More Puzzles, Games, Diversions, Illusions and Other Mathematical Sleight-of-Mind from Scientific American in 1977, I reproduce said acknowledgment here:

Mathematical Games: Counting Systems and the Relationship between Numbers and the Real World” by Martin Gardner [Excerpt including acknowledgments for solutions to Baker's Solitaire problem]

Other than winning medals or certificates for scholastic achievement and spelling bees, this was one of my first of many trivial claims to fame. I think I once got a letter published in Superman comics when I was a kid. And I once sent a purportedly clever letter with photos to Mad Magazine, but that was a bust. Anyway, this was my sole interaction with Martin Gardner, now preserved for the ages.

See also this section of my games web guide:

Homage to Martin Gardner (October 21, 1914 – May 22, 2010)
Mathematical Games Web Links

No comments: