Undiluted Hocus-Pocus: The Autobiography of Martin Gardner

Princeton University Press
4
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Martin Gardner wrote the Mathematical Games column for Scientific American for twenty-five years and published more than seventy books on topics as diverse as magic, religion, and Alice in Wonderland. Gardner's illuminating autobiography is a candid self-portrait by the man evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould called our "single brightest beacon" for the defense of rationality and good science against mysticism and anti-intellectualism.

Gardner takes readers from his childhood in Oklahoma to his varied and wide-ranging professional pursuits. He shares colorful anecdotes about the many fascinating people he met and mentored, and voices strong opinions on the subjects that matter to him most, from his love of mathematics to his uncompromising stance against pseudoscience. For Gardner, our mathematically structured universe is undiluted hocus-pocus—a marvelous enigma, in other words.

Undiluted Hocus-Pocus offers a rare, intimate look at Gardner’s life and work, and the experiences that shaped both.

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About the author

Martin Gardner (1914–2010) was an acclaimed popular mathematics and science writer. His numerous books include The Annotated Alice, When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish, and Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science.
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Reviews

3.8
4 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Sep 30, 2013
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781400847983
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Science & Technology
Mathematics / General
Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Martin Gardner
To Martin Gardner, seeing is not just believing — it is understanding. This fundamental rule has made him one of the most successful teachers and popularizers of science in America. With the simple instructions in this book and a few commonly available household objects, you or your child can easily learn even the most difficult scientific principles by directly experiencing how they work.
Gardner shows you how to re-create classic experiments with easily obtainable objects. Using just a flashlight, a pocket mirror, and a bowl of water, you can demonstrate the color composition of white light just as Newton did 300 years ago. With cardboard, colored paper, and wax paper you can perform "Meyer's experiment" with complementary colors. You need only a playing card, a spool, and a thumbtack to demonstrate Bernoulli's principle of aerodynamics. A soda bottle filled with water, a few paper matches, and a toy balloon elucidate Pascal's law governing pressure in liquids. And two drinking glasses, some matches, and a piece of wet blotting paper re-create a famous experiment, first performed in 1650 in Magdeburg, Germany, that dramatically reveals the force of ordinary atmospheric pressure.
In language simple enough to be easily understood by an 11-year-old, yet technically accurate and informative enough to benefit adults, and aided by Anthony Ravielli's clear illustrations, Gardner presents a splendid practical course in basic science and mathematics. While your child perplexes and delights his or her friends with a series of 100 amusing tricks and experiments, he or she is learning the principles of astronomy, chemistry, physiology, psychology, general mathematics, topology, probability, geometry, numbers, optics (light), gravity, static electricity, mechanics, air hydraulics, thermodynamics (heat), acoustics (sound), and inertia. This is a perfect refresher course for adults as well as an ideal introduction to science for youngsters.
"The experiments … are all clearly explained and unusually well illustrated." — Booklist.
Martin Gardner
"A fascinating, challenging book." ― A.L.A. Booklist
Learn to use the most important codes and methods of secret communication in use since ancient times. Cipher and decipher codes used by spies. Explore the famous codes that changed the fate of nations and political leaders. And enjoy hours of fun experimenting with cryptography ― the science of secret writing.
Beginning with simple letter substitutions and transposition ciphers, world-famous science writer Martin Gardner explains how to break complicated polyalphabetical ciphers and codes worked with grids, squares, triangles, and charts. You'll learn codes that are keyed to typewriters and telephone dials . . . even codes that use playing cards, knots, and swizzle sticks. Experiment with invisible writing ― inks that glow in black light and turn red under heat ― and explore the possibilities of sending messages through outer space to unknown worlds.
Using this book, you can solve the historically famous Playfair Cipher used by Australia in World War II, the Pigpen Cipher used by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, Thomas Jefferson's Wheel Cipher, the Beaufort system used by the British Royal Navy, codes devised by authors for heroes in literature ― Sherlock Holmes, Captain Kidd, and the Shadow. And you will enjoy experimenting with bizarre methods of message sending ― the Dot Code, Knot Code, Swizzle Code, and more.
Young cryptanalysts, cipher fans, and puzzlists of all ages will find hours of intrigue and challenge in Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing. "A stimulating must for the intermediate cryptographer." ― The Kirkus Reviews
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