Magazine article Word Ways

By the Numbers

Magazine article Word Ways

By the Numbers

Article excerpt

This article originally was part of Racherbaumer's column "On the Slant" in the August 2010 issue of GENII magazine. It is used with permission.

He was a man of letters, an imp of numbers, an explicator of signs, an interpreter of symbols, and a magician's magician. And, as the Economist magazine so beautifully put it, Martin Gardner "made mathematicians out of children and children out of mathematicians." While still actively among us, most fans, friends, and colleagues sensed the scope of Martin's influence. Without him present to write, synthesize, inspire, educate, amuse, mystify, and demystify, only his legacy can eventually assuage our loss. Max Maven's synoptically heartfelt tribute (Genii -July-2010) was a capturing, aerial snapshot of Martin's prolificacy--a full-swoop overview. Meanwhile paeans and appreciations poured in from every corner of the world. In fact, the aforementioned Economist (June 5th-11th: 2010) gave a full-page appreciation. Their opening sentence was spot on: "Where literacy meets numeracy, enthusiasm meets skepticism and philosophy meets fun, you will find Martin Gardner." Colm Mulcahy's website also has many photos and personal reminiscences to supplement what has already been written. Over the years I was privileged to receive many letters from Martin. Most were typewritten; however, he invariably scribbled handwritten emendations, sidebars, and postscripts throughout them. He seldom meandered off topic; however, he had a unique way of infusing his words with cozy confidentiality. This made them exclusive, if not precious. Although he often closed by writing "No reply is necessary," he was being curt. No reply was necessary because Martin rarely asked for anything except clarifications and permission to publish anything he thought might be private and personal. …

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