Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Loss of a Puzzler

I read with sadness of the death of Martin Gardner this weekend. He was a revered logician, mathematician, puzzle constructor, and popularizer of logic and mathematics. As a longtime teacher of critical thinking, I was a big fan of Gardner's, aspiring to all of his titles.

His regular columns in Scientific American and, later, The Skeptical Inquirer were must reads for me.

Dear to my heart were what I saw as two missions Gardner pursued: championing the importance of science literacy for all, and providing amusement through numbers and puzzles.

Gardner was one of the founders of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (now called Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) more than 30 years ago. I started using their publications immediately for my logic classes and still do.

I also have a shelf full of Mr. Gardner's brainteasers and puzzle books. Coincidentally, my newest protagonist, Sophie Knowles (2011) is also a puzzler! She's a college math professor who creates puzzles for magazines on the side.

Here's a favorite of Mr. Gardner's that Sophie would like:

What's special about the number 8,549,176,320?

In honor of Mr. Gardner, I'm offering a prize to the first one to identify what's special (no Googling; an honor system is in place!)


qltrgrl said...

All of the digits in alphabetical order.

p.s. -- I'm a math teacher and I'm giving this to my students today.

Peg said...

Well, the first thing I see is that all the digits are contained in this number. Second - I wonder if it's the population of the world (now or at some time in the past).

Camille Minichino said...

you got it! All the digits in alphabetical order.

Email me off line with your ground address and I'll send a prize!

Betty Hechtman said...

I love the name of your new protagonist!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I love puzzles, although the ones I do are all crosswords or word related. Your new series sounds like fun, Camille! Sorry to hear about Martin Gardner's loss.

Jane Jeffress Thomas said...

It's the only number that has all the digits arranged in alphabetical order.