Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rest in Peace Martin Gardner

Aw, we lost one of the great ones. Reposted from last October-November:

Martin Gardner of Tulsa Oklahoma turned 95 this month. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Martin! I can't remember how many times he livened up my many boring study halls in high school thanks to the column he wrote for Scientific American (from 1956-1981).

Here's my favorite picture of him (yes, we were all young once):

Martin Gardner in the US Navy, 1942. Thank you for your Service, Dr. G !

Martin does not in fact have a Doctorate degree (and being the wonderful modest man he is he'd be the first to tell you), but in the hearts of millions he may as well. If he hasn't been awarded an honorary one that would be a crime. In my heart and home he has one, though.

One thing we remember Gardner for especially is turning us on to the game of "Life." What a beautiful diversion and seemingly Mathematics of a "Pure" variety, it actually has usage across a broad number of fields.

Click here to see Gardner's original article in Oct. 1970 Scientific American, and here to play the game. Pay attention to "Gosper Gliding Gun" and see if that doesn't get you excited. I'm actually working on a version of triangles, not squares, and looking for the "gun" in that scenario. Viva la Emergence !

 Gardner has a new book out. Click here to see its Amazon page.

Hey, Dr. Gardner. I have a question for you. We all know that i = the square root of negative one, such that i squared equals negative one. But tell me this:

WHAT is the square root of i ? Tough one, eh?

Oh. OK, fine. But can you prove it?

Well done!

I got that question and proof from a wonderful UK website: Murderous Maths

No, Gardner didn't answer that question or as far as I know had anything to do with that website. I just found out about that site by visiting his Wikipedia entry and following links.

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