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Martin Gardner
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    (October 21, 1914-May 22, 2010)
    Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Amateur mathematician and author
    Founding member of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)
    Wrote the columns 'Mathematical Games' for 'Scientific American' (1956-81) and 'Notes of a Fringe-Watcher' for 'Skeptical Inquirer' (1983-2002)
    Wrote the books 'Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science' (1957), 'Logic Machines and Diagrams' (1957), 'The Annotated Alice' (1960), 'The Ambidextrous Universe' (1964), 'The Flight of Peter Fromm' (1973), 'Science: Good, Bad and Bogus' (1981), 'Entertaining Science Experiments with Everyday Objects' (1981), 'The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener' (1983), 'The Magic Numbers of Dr. Matrix' (1985), 'The Annotated Wizard of Oz' (2000) and 'When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish and Other Speculations About This and That' (2009)
    Received the Steele Prize from the American Mathematical Society (1987)
    He was an atheist turned fundamentalist ('I became convinced that evolution was a satanic myth') turned 'philosophical theist.'
    When he began writing 'Mathematical Games,' he had never taken a math course beyond high school and had struggled with calculus.
    Most of his math puzzles originated with someone else: 'The number of puzzles I've invented you could count on your fingers.'
    For April Fool's columns, he claimed that Einstein's theory of relativity had been disproved and that Leonardo da Vinci invented the flush toilet.
    He was so shy that he declined several honors when told that a public appearance would be required.
    He served with the US Navy in World War II.
    He said his mathematical limitations improved his writing: 'I had to struggle to get everything clear before I wrote a column, so that meant I could write it in a way that people could understand.'
    Allyn Jackson of the American Mathematical Society said that he 'opened the eyes of the general public to the beauty and fascination of mathematics and inspired many to go on to make the subject their life's work.'
    For one of his spoof columns, he provided an elaborate fake 'proof' that the millionth digit of pi would have to be 5; years later, when a computer calculated to pi to a million digits, the millionth number actually was 5.
    He was named one of the '10 Outstanding Skeptics of the 20th Century' by CSICOP.

Credit: C. Fishel

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