Gathering 4 Gardner
|Founder||Thomas M. Rodgers|
|Focus||recreational mathematics, magic and illusion, puzzles, philosophy, rationality|
|Nancy Blachman, Chair|
Erik Demaine, President
Colm Mulcahy, Vice President
Robert P. Crease, Secretary
Rick Sommer, Treasurer
Scott Hudson de Tarnowsky
Gathering 4 Gardner (G4G) is an educational foundation and non-profit corporation (Gathering 4 Gardner, Inc.) devoted to preserving the legacy and spirit of prolific writer Martin Gardner. G4G organizes conferences where people who have been inspired by or have a strong personal connection to Martin Gardner can meet and celebrate his influence. These events explore ideas and developments in recreational mathematics, magic, illusion, puzzles, philosophy, and rationality, and foster creative work in all of these areas by enthusiasts of all ages. G4G also facilitates a related series of events called Celebration of Mind (CoM).
Martin Gardner's prolific output as a columnist and writer—he authored over 100 books between 1951 and 2010—put him in contact with a large number of people on a wide range of subjects from magic, mathematics, puzzles, physics, philosophy, logic and rationality, to G. K. Chesterton, Alice in Wonderland, and the Wizard of Oz. As a result, he had a large following of amateurs and professionals eager to pay tribute to him, but many of them had only infrequent contact with each other. Moreover, Gardner was famously shy, and generally declined to appear at any events honoring him.
In the early 1990s, Atlanta-based entrepreneur and puzzle collector Thomas M. Rodgers (1943–2012), a friend of Martin Gardner's, conceived a plan to create a gathering of people who shared Gardner's interests, especially puzzles, magic, and mathematics. Rodgers invited the world's foremost puzzle composers and collectors, and enlisted magician Mark Setteducati and mathematician Elwyn Berlekamp to recruit leading magicians and recreational mathematicians, respectively. Gardner agreed to attend. Thus was born the first Gathering (G4G1), held in Atlanta, GA, in January 1993.
In 2007 board members Rodgers, Berlekamp, Setteducati, Thane Plambeck, and Scott Hudson de Tarnowsky decided that G4G should broaden its reach and expand the scope of its educational programs. To that end they formed the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation Gathering 4 Gardner, Inc. So far there have been 13 Gatherings. The 14th Gathering for Gardner will be held in Atlanta in March 2020.
Continuing Martin Gardner's pursuit of a playful and fun approach to learning, G4Gn events explore ideas in fields of interest to Gardner. The term G4G is also used to denote the community of people who participate in these events. With the "n" denoting the number in the series, G4Gn is an invitation-only bi-annual conference that started with G4G1 in January 1993. A second gathering (G4G2) was held in Atlanta in 1996, and from then on the events have been held bi-annually, in the springs of even-numbered years, the most recent being G4G13 which took place in April 2018 and featured Fields medallist Manjul Bhargava and inventor of the eponymous cube Erno Rubik.
Lewis Carroll expert Mark Burstein will be a featured speaker at G4G14 with a talk titled, “A Literary Englishman and the Scientific American: Lewis Carroll’s Appearances in ‘Mathematical Games”. G4G14 was to take place in April 2020 has been rescheduled to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, all G4Gn conferences have been held in Atlanta, GA. Gardner (and his wife), who disliked travel in addition to wanting to avoid the limelight, attended only the first two G4Gs.
Notable presenters over the years have included
- Jerry Andrus
- Art Benjamin
- John H. Conway
- Donald Coxeter
- Erik Demaine
- Persi Diaconis
- Jim Gardner (Martin Gardner's son )
- Lennart Green
- Richard K. Guy
- George W. Hart
- Vi Hart
- Jay Marshall
- Max Maven
- Alexa Meade
- Jeannine Mosely
- Roger Penrose
- Dana Richards
- Doris Schattschneider
- Will Shortz
- Raymond Smullyan
Activities typically include lectures, performance art, puzzle and book displays, close-up and stage magic acts, as well as guided sculpture building. Traditionally, each conference has a Gift Exchange, in which attendees swap puzzles, magic tricks, artwork, mathematical papers, novelty items, books, and CDs/DVDs.
Gardner and many of his admirers were filmed at G4G2 in 1996, and this footage formed the basis for a 46-minute episode of The Nature of Things made by David Suzuki. Titled, Mystery and Magic of Mathematics: Martin Gardner and Friends, it showcases Martin's numerous passions, and reminds us of the amazing panoply of people that he informally assembled and mentored over the decades.
Celebration of Mind events
Developed in 2010 after Martin Gardner's death that spring, Celebration of Mind (CoM) is a worldwide series of events held on or around Gardner's birthday: October 21. Anyone, anywhere, can host one, and most of them are open to the public. These CoMs vary in size from three people meeting to perform rubber-band magic for each other, to crowds of hundreds of students in highly organized exploratory paper folding activities. The goal is to celebrate the boundless creativity and curiosity of the human mind, and they have been held in locations from Boston to Beijing, and from Riga to Rio. There have been Celebration of Mind events hosted on all seven continents, and G4G encourages organizers to register their events at the CoM website. Resources to assist with hosting events are provided through the organization's website, or participants can also just perform a magic trick, or share a puzzle or recreational mathematics problem with friends.
- Crease, Robert P. (2010). Gathering for Gardner: Homage to the iconic author of Scientific American's 'Mathematical Games' column The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2010
- G4G: Board Of Directors
- Peterson, Ivars (2006). A Gathering for Gardner Science News, March 23, 2006
- Thomas M. Rodgers (1 August 1943 – 10 April 2012)
- Bellos, Alex (2008). The science of fun The Guardian, May 30, 2008
- Rothstein, Edward (2006). Puzzles, Origami and Other Mind-Twisters The New York Times, April 3, 2006
- The 14th Biennial Gathering 4 Gardner Conference Gathering 4 Gardner Official Website
- Martin Gardner would have smiled 16 Apr 2018 by Robert P Crease, Physics World
- G4G Program Talk: Mark Burstein The 14th Biennial Gathering 4 Gardner Conference (2020)
- *** Important Announcement G4G14 Information
- Mathematics Awareness Month 2014: Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery mathaware.org
- Mulcahy, Colm (2012). Tom Rodgers, Organizer of Gathering for Gardner and Celebration of Mind, Dies at 67 Mathematical Association of America, April 20, 2012
- +Plus Magazine (2010). Gathering for Gardner – join the Celebration of Mind party! October 04, 2010
- Mulcahy, Colm (2012). Who wants to host a Celebration of Mind? There’s still time The Aperiodical, October 19, 2012
- Kavassalis, S.C. (2010). Gathering For Gardner: Celebration of Mind blogs.plos.org, October 21, 2010