I learned today, while listening to Car Talk on NPR, that Martin Gardner has died. He's responsible for the update of Thompson's Calculus Made Easy that I've been working through as my wife, Amanda, has been enrolled first in Calculus I and now Calculus II at a local college. The Wikipedia article on Gardner lists sixty other books he wrote. I've read only Did Adam and Eve Have Navels?--one in a series debunking pseudoscience--and the essay collection called The Night is Large. I recommend both, but there are at least 59 others, and, like me, you've probably never read Little Dorrit or Middlemarch, either. For 25 years, Gardner wrote a column on recreational mathematics for Scientific American. I think the Car Talk guys were subscribers because their weekly "puzzler," they acknowledged on air, is borrowed from his "Mathematical Games" column. Gardner was 96.
Here is his introduction to his essay "The Laffer Curve," reprinted in The Night is Large:
I would have expected supply-side theory to die a slow death after Ronald Reagan's failed promise to balance the budget by cutting taxes, emasculating the federal government (but without touching social security), and increasing military spending. Alas, it is still alive and well. As I write (1995), many Republican leaders are promising to balance the budget by cutting taxes (especially on the rich), emasculating the federal government (but without touching social security), and increasing military spending.
My spoof on the Laffer curve ran in Scientific American (December 1981).
The 61 books show what can be done by someone who combines intelligence, curiosity, and a devotion to learning and work. You feel you could be like him if only you were a little smarter, a little better.