Maths populariser's work celebrated

 

THOUSANDS OF children learned to become mathematicians and thousands of mathematicians learned how to become children again through the work of maths populariser Martin Gardner.

For decades he developed ways to make mathematics interesting, fun but also meaningful and took much of the mystery out of a subject that has become central to our technological world.

The contribution he made will be explained tomorrow at the closing event of Maths Week 2012.

Irish maths lecturer Prof Colm Mulcahy will deliver a talk entitled Martin Gardner’s Celebration of Mind at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, tomorrow from noon until 3pm.

“Martin Gardner was a famous populariser of mathematics for over 50 years,” said Prof Mulcahy who is based at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. “He wrote 100 books, but was also interested in puzzles and magic and also in debunking bad science.”

Gardner (1914-2001) wrote about science and maths and contributed more than 300 columns to Scientific American magazine.

“They turned a lot of people on to mathematics during the Sputnik era in the 1950s,” said Prof Mulcahy.

Gardner found simple ways to make people think about mathematics, although ironically he was not a mathematician and did not have a degree in the subject.

More than 130,000 school students took part in Maths Week activities this year, said organiser Eoin Gill of Waterford Institute of Technology.