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- Hexaflexagons and Other Mathematical Diversions: The First Scientific… 452 copies, 2 reviews
- Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science 437 copies, 5 reviews
- Aha! Insight 326 copies, 2 reviews
- Aha! Gotcha: Paradoxes to Puzzle and Delight 315 copies
- Did Adam and Eve Have Navels?: Debunking Pseudoscience 309 copies, 3 reviews
- The Night Is Large: Collected Essays, 1938-1995 301 copies, 2 reviews
- The Colossal Book of Mathematics: Classic Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Problems 284 copies, 2 reviews
- Relativity Simply Explained 256 copies, 3 reviews
- My Best Mathematical and Logic Puzzles 256 copies
- The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener 237 copies, 4 reviews
- Mathematical Carnival 236 copies, 1 review
- Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus 233 copies, 3 reviews
- Mathematical Circus: More Games, Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Other… 216 copies, 1 review
- The ambidextrous universe 212 copies
- The Unexpected Hanging and Other Mathematical Diversions 195 copies, 1 review
- More Annotated Alice: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the… (Editor) 182 copies
- Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing (Test Your Code Breaking Skills) 176 copies
- Mathematical Magic Show: More Puzzles, Games, Diversions, Illusions and… 154 copies
- Wheels, Life, and Other Mathematical Amusements 154 copies, 1 review
- Mathematics, Magic and Mystery 152 copies, 1 review
- Origami, Eleusis, and the Soma Cube 151 copies, 1 review
- Sphere Packing, Lewis Carroll and Reversi (New Martin Gardner Mathematical… 151 copies
- Are Universes Thicker Than Blackberries?: Discourses on Godel, Magic… 144 copies, 4 reviews
- Penrose Tiles to Trapdoor Ciphers 141 copies
- Time Travel and Other Mathematical Bewilderments 138 copies, 1 review
- The Colossal Book of Short Puzzles and Problems 138 copies
- Knotted Doughnuts and Other Mathematical Entertainments 135 copies, 2 reviews
- Entertaining Mathematical Puzzles 133 copies
- Great Essays in Science 131 copies
- Entertaining Science Experiments with Everyday Objects 119 copies, 1 review
- Perplexing Puzzles and Tantalizing Teasers 112 copies
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Introduction, some editions) 14,349 copies, 199 reviews
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Introduction, some editions) 11,037 copies, 252 reviews
- The Martian Chronicles (Introduction, some editions) 9,962 copies, 177 reviews
- The Emperor's New Mind (Foreword, some editions) 2,194 copies, 16 reviews
- The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition (Introduction; Editor) 2,000 copies, 28 reviews
- The Annotated Alice (Introduction; Editor) 1,728 copies, 21 reviews
- The Annotated Wizard of Oz (Foreword, some editions; Preface) 666 copies, 13 reviews
- The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing (Contributor) 513 copies, 5 reviews
- Calculus Made Easy (some editions) 482 copies, 5 reviews
- The Annotated Hunting of the Snark (Editor) 433 copies, 4 reviews
- How to think about weird things : critical thinking for a new age (Foreword) 308 copies, 9 reviews
- 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories (Contributor) 293 copies, 2 reviews
- The Moscow Puzzles (Editor, some editions) 226 copies
- Queen Zixi of Ix (Introduction, some editions) 195 copies, 4 reviews
- The Magical Monarch of Mo (Introduction, some editions) 190 copies, 3 reviews
- American Fairy Tales (Introduction, some editions) 183 copies, 2 reviews
- Little Wizard Stories of Oz (Introduction, some editions) 181 copies, 2 reviews
- Alice in Puzzle-Land (Introduction, some editions) 163 copies
- The Country of the Blind and Other Science-Fiction Stories (Editor, some editions) 152 copies, 2 reviews
- A Dreamer's Tales (Foreword, some editions) 151 copies, 3 reviews
- 536 puzzles & curious problems (Editor) 146 copies, 1 review
- An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (Editor) 135 copies
- Mathematical Puzzles of Sam Loyd (Editor) 114 copies
- The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton's Masterpiece, the Man Who Was… (Editor) 110 copies, 1 review
- The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown (Editor) 93 copies, 1 review
- Annotated Ancient Mariner: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Editor) 90 copies, 1 review
- Magical Mathematics: The Mathematical Ideas that Animate Great Magic… (Foreword) 59 copies
- The Wasp in a Wig: A "Suppressed" Episode of THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS AND… (Editor, some editions) 57 copies, 1 review
- Oddities and Curiosities of Words and Literature (Editor, some editions) 56 copies
- The Outer Edge (Contributor) 36 copies, 1 review
- Counterpoints: 25 Years of The New Criterion on Culture and the Arts (Contributor) 28 copies
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Martin Gardner was born on October 21 1914 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of a geologist who started a small oil business and became a wildcatter. As a child Martin enjoyed magic tricks and playing chess. After graduating from high school in 1932, he earned a bachelor's degree in Philosophy at the University of Chicago, having also studied history, literature and the sciences under the intellectually-stimulating Great Books curriculum.
Although brought up a devout Methodist, he lost his Christian faith as a result of his wide reading, a transition he covered in a semi-autobiographical novel The Flight of Peter Fromm (1973).
In 1937 Gardner returned to Oklahoma, taking a reporter's job on the Tulsa Tribune, and after a spell in public relations back at the University of Chicago, in 1942 joined the US Naval Reserve as a yeoman in the destroyer escort USS Pope. On night watch, he dreamed up plots for stories, which he sold to Esquire magazine. After the war he became a freelance writer, and in the 1950s wrote features for Humpty Dumpty's Magazine and other children's periodicals.
In 1956 he sold an article to Scientific American magazine and followed this up with an essay about hexaflexagons – hexagons made from strips of paper that show different faces when flexed in different ways. This so impressed the publisher that Gardner was invited to produce a regular column along similar lines. Since he had not studied mathematics after high school, Gardner plundered second-hand bookshops in Manhattan to find enough material to sustain his "Mathematical Games" column. In the event it ran for 25 years and earned Gardner the American Mathematical Society's prize for mathematical exposition.
His lack of scholarly expertise meant that instead of relying on academic jargon, Gardner packed his prose with cross-cultural references, jokes and anecdotes, giving the column the broadest-possible appeal. He introduced his readers to riddles, paradoxes, enigmas and even magic tricks, as well as concepts such as fractals and Chinese tangram puzzles, redefining the concept of "recreational mathematics".
Gardner also became known as a sceptic of the paranormal, and wrote works debunking public figures such as the psychic Uri Geller, who gained fame for claiming to bend spoons with his mind. In his first book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (1952), Gardner exposed such quackery as flat-earth cults, alien abductions and a belief in UFOs. The book has since become a classic; the novelist Kingsley Amis, an early fan, regretted not stealing a copy when he had had the chance.
In 1976, with Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov and others, Gardner co-founded the Committee for the Scientific Evaluation of Claims of the Paranormal, and wrote regularly for its magazine, the Skeptical Inquirer. Its most recent issue includes a feature he wrote on Oprah Winfrey's New Age interests.
In more than 70 books, Gardner produced lay guides to Einstein's Theory of Relativity; ambidexterity and physical symmetry; the bath plug vortex (the phenomenon by which bathwater in the northern hemisphere drains in an anticlockwise direction and clockwise in the southern hemisphere); and even the concept of God. He also published fiction, poetry and literary and film criticism as well as puzzle books.
In The Numerology of Dr Matrix (1967) Gardner investigated links between numerals and the occult, asking (for example) what is special about the number 8,549,176,320? (A: It is the 10 natural integers arranged in the order of the English alphabet.)
His many admirers instituted a regular convention of Gardner followers, known as "Gatherings for Gardner" (G4G), which attracted magicians, puzzle fans and mathematicians from all over the world.
Although Gardner attended these as guest of honour, as a matter of course he avoided conferences, meetings and parties, and despite his facility as a polymath never owned a computer or used email. He preferred to work standing up, and, while magic and conjuring tricks remained his principal hobby, was also an accomplished exponent of the musical saw.
Martin Gardner married, in 1952, Charlotte Greenwald, who predeceased him in 2000. Their two sons survive him.
(The Telegraph: Martin Gardner, 7:14PM BST 25 May 2010)
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