Martin Gardner's legacy in mathematics and science is well established, and never is he so at home than when picking apart paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Yet like Isaac Asimov, Gardner's interests encompass a wide range of views and arguments. His wit and encyclopedic knowledge have made him a sought-after contributor to Discover, Nature, Psychology Today, and The New York Review of Books.
A delightful collection of his best essays, Gardner's Whys & Wherefores includes articles on the puzzles in James Joyce's Ulysses and on the fantasies of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Lord Dunsany, Gilbert Chesterton, and H.G. Wells. Gardner expresses strong opinions about the "anthropic principle," computer games capable of discovering scientific laws, the philosophy of W.V. Quine, Marvin Minsky's view of the workings of the mind, the idiosyncrasies of social theorist Allan Bloom, the reality of unknown digits that "sleep" in pi, and whether physicists are really on the verge of discovering Everything.
A delightful bit of publishing history is a hilarious selection from The New York Review of Books in which Gardner, writing under a pseudonym, blasts his own book, The Ways of a Philosophical Scrivener. Exciting, provocative, and enduring, Gardner's Whys & Wherefores is a distinct pleasure.
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"Like most anthologies of essays by people of varied interests, this is an absolute hodgepodge of subjects, changing topics with the rapidity of a dictionary. There is no order to what comes next other than dividing the essays from the reviews and presenting each in chronological order. This gives a delightfully serendipitous quality that makes the reader eager to see what might come next." -- Paul Cardwell, Jr., The Denison Daily PostAbout the Author:
Martin Gardner, the creator of Scientific American’s "Mathematical Games" column, which he wrote for more than twenty-five years, is the author of almost one hundred books, including The Annotated Ancient Mariner, Martin Gardner’s Favorite Poetic Parodies, From the Wandering Jew to William F. Buckley Jr., and Science: Good, Bad and Bogus. For many years he was also a contributing editor to the Skeptical Inquirer.
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