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Gathering 4 Gardner

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(Redirected from Gathering for Gardner)
FounderThomas M. Rodgers[1]
Focusrecreational mathematics, magic and illusion, puzzles, philosophy, rationality
Colm Mulcahy, Chair
Nancy Blachman, President
Robert W. Vallin, Secretary
Rick Sommer, Treasurer

Board members:
Jim Gardner
Bob Hearn
Doris Schattschneider
Scott Vorthmann
Colin Wright
Carolyn Yackel

Ex-board members:
Elwyn Berlekamp
Erik Demaine
Rob Jones
Mark Mitton
Bruce Oberg
Thane Plambeck
Tom Rodgers
Mark Setteducati
Scott Hudson de Tarnowsky
Jade Vinson
Robert P. Crease

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.[2] 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.[3] 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).[4]


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.[1]

In the early 1990s, Atlanta-based entrepreneur and puzzle collector Thomas M. Rodgers (1943–2012),[5] 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.[6] 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.[3] Gardner agreed to attend. Thus was born the first Gathering (G4G1), held in Atlanta, GA, in January 1993.[7] For the next two decades G4G was supported mainly by Rodgers with "seemingly unfettered access to his personal time and resources".[8]

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 14 Gatherings, all held in downtown Atlanta. The 14th Gathering took place in April 2022 (delayed for 2 years because of the COVID-19 pandemic) and was a hybrid event, with some participants joining remotely as speakers and audience members.[9]

The logo of Gathering for Gardner, as well as the logo for the first CoM event, employs ambigrams designed by long-time Gardner associate Scott Kim.

G4Gn events[edit]

Packed with wonderful treats and startling surprises, it provided one "aha!" moment after another.[3]

Ivars Peterson

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, up until G4G13 which took place in April 2018 and featured Fields medallist Manjul Bhargava and inventor of the eponymous cube Ernő Rubik.[10]

After a delay because of Covid, G4G14 finally took place in April 2022. Lewis Carroll expert Mark Burstein was a featured speaker with a talk titled, “A Literary Englishman and the Scientific American: Lewis Carroll’s Appearances in ‘Mathematical Games”. Ingrid Daubechies was also a featured speaker with a talk titled, "Reunited: An Art Historical and Digital Adventure".[11]

To date, all G4Gn conferences have been held in Atlanta, GA.[3] 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

Activities typically include lectures, performance art, puzzle and book displays, close-up and stage magic acts. Another tradition held at these off-site events was the directed community building of original mathematical sculptures under the leadership of George Hart, Chaim Goodman-Strauss and others.[12] Each conference has a Gift Exchange, in which attendees swap puzzles, magic tricks, artwork, mathematical papers, novelty items, books, and CDs/DVDs.[1]

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.[13]

Celebration of Mind events[edit]

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.[14] Anyone, anywhere, can host one, and most of them are open to the public.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]


  1. ^ a b c 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
  2. ^ Popular math author Yossi Elran director of the Innovation Center at the Weizmann Institute of Science called G4G "an organization that promotes curiosity and the playful exchange of ideas and critical thinking in recreational math, magic, science, literature, and puzzles to preserve the legacy of writer and polymath Martin Gardner".
  3. ^ a b c d Peterson, Ivars (2006). A Gathering for Gardner Science News, March 23, 2006
  4. ^ Celebration of Mind events Maths Week Ireland 2020 Results
  5. ^ Thomas M. Rodgers (1 August 1943 – 10 April 2012)
  6. ^ Bellos, Alex (2008). The science of fun The Guardian, May 30, 2008
  7. ^ Rothstein, Edward (2006). Puzzles, Origami and Other Mind-Twisters The New York Times, April 3, 2006
  8. ^ Barrycades and Septoku: Papers in Honor of Martin Gardner and Tom Rodgers, edited by Thane Plambeck & Tomas Rokicki, American Mathematical Society, May 2020, p.xiv ISBN 9781470448707
  9. ^ *** Important Announcement G4G14 Information
  10. ^ Martin Gardner would have smiled 16 Apr 2018 by Robert P Crease, Physics World
  11. ^ G4G Program Talk: Mark Burstein The 14th Biennial Gathering 4 Gardner Conference (2020)
  12. ^ Magic numbers: A meeting of mathemagical tricksters By Alex Bellos, New Scientist, 24 May 2010
  13. ^ Mathematics Awareness Month 2014: Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery mathaware.org
  14. ^ Mulcahy, Colm (2012). Tom Rodgers, Organizer of Gathering for Gardner and Celebration of Mind, Dies at 67 Mathematical Association of America, April 20, 2012
  15. ^ +Plus Magazine (2010). Gathering for Gardner – join the Celebration of Mind party! October 04, 2010
  16. ^ Mulcahy, Colm (2012). Who wants to host a Celebration of Mind? There’s still time The Aperiodical, October 19, 2012
  17. ^ Kavassalis, S.C. (2010). Gathering For Gardner: Celebration of Mind Archived 2012-06-04 at the Wayback Machine blogs.plos.org, October 21, 2010

External links[edit]