Martin Gardner (1914 – 2010) was best known for his articles on recreational mathematics, especially his column in Scientific American which he wrote from 1956 to 1981. Once Gardner wrote a letter of recommendation for a young man applying to graduate school at Harvard.

I don’t know a lot about mathematics, but this kid invented two of the best card tricks of the last ten years. You ought to give him a chance.

The kid was Persi Diaconis. At the time, Diaconis, like Gardner, was something of a mathematical outsider, someone with more creativity than credentials. Diaconis went on to become a mathematics professor at Harvard and won two MacArthur genius awards. He is now a professor at Stanford.

**Source**: Magical Mathematics (ISBN 0691151644)

(was a professor at Harvard, now a professor at Stanford, unless something has changed the last few days)

Thanks. I’ll update the post. I didn’t realize he’d moved.

John,

Only on the interwebs do you get to appreciate people you would have had zero chance of meeting before :

http://nuit-blanche.blogspot.com/2011/08/we-are-not-pleased-with-your.html

Now I gotta know, what ARE the best card tricks?! :-)

Yes, I would like to see those two card tricks as well.

He’s giving a public talk at Stanford at the end of the month, maybe he’ll talk about it there?

http://math.stanford.edu/index.html (There is a link to the event flier on the front page)

@AntiSlice , The video I featured was ome of the most enjoyable piece of math I have ever viewed. Do you believe there will be a camera in that room ?

Should we crowdsource the question to ask Persi ?

Saw Diaconis give a talk several years ago and I’ve still not forgotten it. He used the Poisson distribution to disprove Karl Jung’s “Synchronicity”.

Got a confirmation from Stanford that the talk will NOT be taped. Dr. Diaconis does not like being taped from what i was told. Too bad.