Cover image for Gardner's whys & wherefores
Gardner's whys & wherefores
Gardner, Martin, 1914-2010.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1989.
Physical Description:
ix, 261 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3557.A714 G37 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Martin Gardner is best known for his many popular books about science and mathematics, but in this collection he demonstrates that his interests encompass nearly everything else as well. No one will agree with all of Gardner's views, but it is hard to imagine a reader who will not find them exciting, provocative, and a pleasure to read.

Author Notes

Martin Gardner is the author of more than seventy books on a vast range of topics including "Did Adam & Eve Have Navels?", "Calculus Made Easy", & "The Annotated Alice". He lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gardner's newest collection demonstrates, in case we'd forgotten, that the ace mathematical gamesman, popular scientific exegete, and quack-squelcher is also an excellent literary commentator. Most of the pieces--divided into sections of "Essays" and "Reviews"--are about books. The longer essays include a delightfully sensible review of 150 years of Ancient Mariner criticism; a set-the-record-straight account of the career of "Casey at the Bat"; a discussion of "Puzzles in Ulysses"; and articles on the fantasies of H. G. Wells, Lord Dunsany, and G. K. Chesterton. The reviews usually cover books about science and scientists, although picture-book artist Mitsumasa Anno and Allan Bloom (The Closing of the American Mind) are also scrutinized. Of course, there are some mathematical/philosophical articles, too, since without them it wouldn't be a Martin Gardner book. To be indexed. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Well-known for his math-games column in Scientific American and his many books, Gardner here brings together 16 diverting essays on literature and mathematics and 20 book reviews on science-related matters, reprinted from Nature , Science , Discover , the Boston Globe and the New York Review of Books. The subjects of these pieces range from the abacus, the pi ratio, the science fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Casey at the Bat to puzzle poems, the ``curious mind'' of Allan Bloom and unsolved problems in number theory. As Gardner says of himself in his NYRB review of one of his own books (reprinted here), ``the man has a reputation as a hoaxer.'' But in this delightful collection of brilliant insights he will pull no wool over the eyes of his many readers-to-be. Illustrated. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Best known as a writer of mathematical recreations and popular science, Gardner aims at a wider audience in these brief essays, cheerfully pursuing his speculations into the realms of philosophy and literature. The same love of magic and whimsy sustains him whether he is surveying fantasy literature, totting up subatomic particles, or breezing through word puzzles. At times his efforts degenerate into miscellaneous dabbling, and Gardner does well to point out more substantial books along the way. His own previous math and science titles compare well with this one; they can still provide any type of library with enjoyable explorations. The present volume offers some of the same pleasures but spreads them a little thin.-- Donald Ray, Mercy Coll., Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface to Paperback Editionp. ix
Prefacep. xiii
Part 1 Essaysp. 1
1. The Ancient Marinerp. 3
2. The Mighty Caseyp. 25
3. The Martian Chroniclesp. 37
4. A Dreamer's Talesp. 44
5. The Computer as Scientistp. 48
6. Illusions of the Third Dimensionp. 57
7. Kickshaws IIp. 68
8. Seven Puzzle Poemsp. 77
9. Slicing Pi into Millionsp. 81
10. The Traveling Salesmanp. 90
11. The Abacusp. 102
12. The Puzzles in Ulyssesp. 107
13. The Fantasies of H. G. Wellsp. 122
14. The Fantasies of G. K. Chestertonp. 131
15. The Fantasies of Lord Dunsanyp. 138
16. Playing with Mathematicsp. 151
Part 2 Reviewsp. 153
17. Polywaterp. 155
18. Science in Ancient Chinap. 157
19. Great Experimentsp. 159
20. Gardner's Whysp. 162
21. How Science Self-Correctsp. 169
22. Some Trends in Mathematicsp. 172
23. Comfort's Comfortsp. 175
24. Calculating Prodigiesp. 179
25. Arthur C. Clarkep. 188
26. Did Sherlock Holmes Meet Father Brown?p. 191
27. Richard Feynmanp. 194
28. Physics: End of the Road?p. 197
29. W. V. Quinep. 211
30. Mitsumasa Annop. 215
31. WAP, SAP, PAP, and FAPp. 218
32. Secrets of the Old Onep. 229
33. Marvin Minsky's Theory of Mindp. 238
34. Order in Chaosp. 243
35. Infinity and Informationp. 247
36. The Curious Mind of Allan Bloomp. 256