Martin Gardner, G4G, and Many More Flexagons

Welcome to this week’s Math Munch!

Meet the incredible Martin Gardner. If you’re a mathematician then chances are good you already have, but any reader of this blog has certainly felt the ripples of his influence. Nearly everything we share on Math Munch can be traced back to the recreational mathematics of Martin Gardner. For 25 years he wrote the “Mathematical Games” column for Scientific American, in which he shared wonderful puzzles, riddles, and games that have inspired generations of mathematicians. We’re trying to do the same here at Math Munch, so Gardner’s a sort of hero for us.

Maybe the best way to connect with this math legend would be to take on a few of his puzzles. (I’ve linked to some of my favorites below.) Many of the puzzles have a “Print ‘n Play” option you may want to take advantage of. His columns and other writings now live in the more than 100 books he wrote. Pick one up at your local library and dig in!

Martin Gardner’s Puzzles

Heavy Weight

Crazy Cut

Two Sipirals

Cube Dates

Scott Kim’s ambigram logo for G4G5

In this video you can hear Scott Kim (remember his ambigrams?) talk about his own connection to Martin Gardner, and here he talks about his involvement with the Gathering 4 Gardner. These are events that take place across the world to celebrate Gardner’s work and legacy. If you’re inspired by some of this stuff, maybe you’ll get a few friends together and share it with them.

Gardner’s very first article for Scientific American was about the hexaflexagon, so as part of this year’s Gathering 4 Gardner, people are making flexagons of all sorts. Here’s a video of Martin himself talking about them, which is part of full-length video about Gardner called “The Nature of Things.” Justin wrote about flexagons here, and Vi Hart followed suit with a pair of fantastic videos telling the true story of their discovery.

And here’s part 2.

That’s not all! There’s a whole world of flexagons to build and play with. To see another kind, check out the cyclic hexa-tetraflexagon as shown off by James Grime in this video.

A Flexagon Bestiary

Here’s one last flexagon resource with instructions you might prefer.  There are so many videos to watch, puzzles to solve, and flexagons to flex. Hopefully you’ll have a very mathy week in honor of Martin Gardner.

Bon appetit!

12 responses »

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  7. This video was really cool. The had never hears of hexaflexagons before and it was very interesting because the kept on changing sides and colors. Also how did Martin Gardner think of new puzzles and riddles for 25 years!!!???

  8. I love this video, the hexaflexagon is a very interesting puzzle, i didnt think she would find a third white side in the first part. Martin Gardner seems like a very courious man. I also dont know how he thought of new puzzles for 25 years. I would like to to know if he actually thought of the hexaflexagon in math class… ha!

  9. I’ve never heard of a hexaflexagon before, they seem very interesting. so do they only go up to 6 different sides? or are there still more sides that can be found?

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