Martin Gardner has died. From his New York Times obituary:
Mr. Gardner also wrote fiction, poetry, literary and film criticism, as well as puzzle books. He was a leading voice in refuting pseudoscientific theories, from ESP to flying saucers. He was so prolific and wide-ranging in his interests that critics speculated that there just had to be more than one of him.
His mathematical writings intrigued a generation of mathematicians, but he never took a college math course. If it seemed the only thing this polymath could not do was play music on a saw, rest assured that he could, and quite well.
“Martin Gardner is one of the great intellects produced in this country in the 20th century,” said Douglas Hofstadter, the cognitive scientist.
Gardner was a magician too. He wrote the Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic; I knew him from his contributions to Magic magazine. Reading the above makes me curious about more of his work.
A few years ago I wrote about an optical illusion created in his honor by fellow magician and skeptic Jerry Andrus. It’s a papercraft dragon that produces an eerie effect by cleverly fooling our perception of shape. Experience it by downloading the file here. There’s also a video, but it’s worth taking a few minutes to make one for yourself.