The Last Recreations collects the final works of Martin Gardner, the renowned "Mathematical Games" columnist for Scientific American. No prior knowledge of mathematics are necessary here; all will enjoy learning about topics ranging from Bulgarian solitaire to taxicab geometry, with experienced expositor Gardner as guide. Letters and updates concerning his column are also included in this book.
More than any of his other writing, Martin Gardner's Mathematical Games column in Scientific American cemented his reputation as America's premier writer on recreational mathematics and set the standard for the genre. What's remarkable about Gardner's career is that while he remained unfailingly lucid and entertaining, the mathematical ideas he was able to make understandable to a lay audience gradually grew in depth and sophistication. Yet he has never lost his light touch. The Last Recreations collects Gardner's columns from the last seven years before his retirement from the magazine in 1986. As always in his published collections, Gardner includes letters received from readers commenting on the ideas presented in his columns, as well as his own updates and commentaries.
In The Wonders of a Planiverse, we read about A.K. Dewdney's remarkable explorations in Flatlandthe land of two dimensionsas well as readers' comments on Flatland's implications for subjects ranging from relativity to firearm design. Taxicab Geometry explores the bizarre properties of a surprisingly simple form of non-Euclidian geometry. Fun with Eggs delves into the rich history of lore and methods of egg balancing. One of the readers' replies tells how to get hens to lay eggs with personalized notes inside. There are twenty other essays, on subjects ranging from prime numbers to checkers to the mathematics of voting, each more amusing and fascinating than the last.
This book is classic Martin Gardner, doing what he does better than anyone else.