Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Of Hexaflexagons, Superellipses and the Mad Romance of Numbers," by EdwardRothstein. The New York Times,19 January 2002.

Rothstein writes a column about The Colossal Book of Mathematics: ClassicPuzzles, Paradoxes and Problems (W.W. Norton), a collection of columns byMartin Gardner for Scientific Americanfrom 1965 to his retirement in 1991. The reviewer profiles the prolific andtalented writer, described by one mathematician as having "brought moremathematics, to more millions, than anyone else." From folded papers tocombinatorics, knotted ropes to topology, Escher paintings to group theory,urban planning to analysis of the superellipse, Gardner's "recreations" havestimulated and enthralled problem-solving professionals and amateurs alike."Mr. Gardner's movement from the trivial and amusing to the abstract anddifficult discloses the process mathematics itself follows. For Mr. Gardner,this evolution reflects a form of Platonism: the belief that mathematicsprogresses from illusion to illumination, inspiring amazement along the way."

--- Annette Emerson