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Selections from “Martin Gardner’s Corner”


Martin Gardner, a prolific writer who pondered the wonders of thought, intelligence, and perception, passed away on May 22 at the age of 95. He authored more than seventy books covering a diverse array of subjects, including science, mathematics, philosophy, art, literature, puzzles, logic, religion, parapsychology and, of course, magic. A longtime contributor to MAGIC Magazine, Martin was lauded by the publication as one of the 100 most significant people in the history of 20th-century American magic.

“Martin’s Gardner’s Corner” ran intermittently in this magazine from June 1994 until June 2004. In all, 81 installments were published, each illustrated by Tom Jorgensen.

We asked Jason England, a longtime Martin Gardner fan, to choose the cream of the crop of the “Corner” articles. He was to read, experiment, and then select the best “four corners” we published. He submitted fifteen.

We finally settled on reprinting the “best” six, along with Jason’s impressions, in the July issue of MAGIC Magazine, then listing his other nine selections here on our website.

In Jason’s words:

My choices tend toward the items that offer a really compelling visual illusion or illustrate a cool scientific principle. Sometimes, they do both. While all 81 of the installations are worth a look, the remaining nine that I originally submitted are listed below for you to track down on your own.

Curious Feedbacks
[February 1995, page 67]
A cool trick for finding the center of gravity for many types of objects.

The Candle See-Saw
[April 1995, page 88]
A very cool experiment that takes a while to complete, but is fun to watch.

Light From the Wrong End
[December 1995, page 83]
This took me a few tries to get it to work, but eventually did. A very odd phenomenon with a few matches.

A Mirror Paradox
[March 1997, page 73]
This is a great introduction to symmetry for kids, or adults that want to feel like kids for a moment.

The Rising Marble
[September 1997, page 75]
This exact phenomenon came up recently in a conversation between Steve Forte and Michael Weber regarding gaffed keno balls. I kid you not.

Swinging Cups
[November 1998, page 83]
A really cool demonstration of energy transfer using simple around the home objects.

The Jumping Pencil
[August 1999, page 83]
This is similar to the column from January of 1996, but it can be made in a flash. It won’t “linger” like the other version, but you can cause the balloon to deflate on command.

Match Penetration
[April 2000, page 81]
A classic penetration illusion. I made mine in a matter of seconds and had it working in just a minute or so.

Unbroken Tissue
[November 2003, page 119]
A great “betcha” for the kids. A good illustration of the principle that allows a sandbag can stop a bullet by dispersing the force in a very short distance.


Gardner's Corners Listing

Click here to download a pdf of the chart above.

© 2010 MAGIC Magazine [click to return to cover page]