What is Celebration of Mind?

October 21 was Martin Gardner's birthday.  On and around that date every year, Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation (G4G) facilitates the holding of Celebration of Mind events all over the world to honor the legacy of this prolific and accessible American writer, who over a fifty-year period introduced general audiences to many fascinating topics in mathematics and science. The principle goal is to inspire new generations to explore the wide range of intellectual pursuits which fascinated him.  

Gardner was known for his extensive writings on recreational mathematics, primarily in 300 monthly columns in Scientific American, and the fifteen resulting collections.  He also wrote books about skepticism, magic, physics, philosophy and religion.  His best seller remains The Annotated Alice, his classic Lewis Carroll reference.

Many of those who don't recognize Gardner by name are familiar with ideas he helped to popularize, from origami and the art of M.C. Escher, to flexagons and a method to determine the day of the week for any given date. He's credited with being a big influence on people ranging from Douglas Hofstadter (Gödel, Escher, Bach), and Scott Kim (Inversions) to ace statistician and card magician Persi Diaconis. Indeed, the latter has remarked that Gardner "turned thousands of children into mathematicians, and thousands of mathematicians into children."

In 1993, G4G started bringing people together every two years for conferences to explore mathematics, science, art, magic, and puzzles of the type Gardner had long championed. The man honored was delighted by these, and expressed hope they would continue after his lifetime.
Gardner passed away in May 2010 at the age of 95, and soon the Celebration of Mind concept was born.  These are free and open to all, worldwide, to attend or host locally.  They’re intended to make available to anybody, anywhere, the opportunity to explore some of Gardner’s interests. In each of the past two Octobers, about 70 Celebration of Mind events took place around the world, with all seven continents being represented.  Fans of Gardner took delight in introducing others to the wonders of an eternally curious mind, with math puzzles, logic puzzles, hexaflexagons and Möbius strips, magic and card tricks and visual paradoxes.

Organizers are hoping to see even more Celebration of Mind events happen in 2012. If you love puzzles, math, Lewis Carroll, critical thinking, or just a good intellectual challenge, you're encouraged to participate in an event in your area, or to host one of your own. You'll find plenty of resources on the Celebration of Mind site (http://www.g4g-com.org) to help you locate events in your area or put together a full schedule of activities for your own.

 

 


Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation (http://gathering4gardner.org/about) celebrates Martin Gardner's life and work, and continues his pursuit of a playful and fun approach to mathematics, science, art, magic, puzzles and all of his other interests and writings.  Participants at each of the associated events are encouraged to bring a magic trick, puzzle, optical illusion or recreational mathematics problem---or story about Martin---to share.

Check out past parties.