It’s hard to believe that’s it’s been a month since the Gathering. I have so much to write about my incredible trip to California that I just got back from but want to finish my posting on G4G9 first, two more should do it!
First, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Neil Bickford. Ed Pegg Jr. did a presentation where all attendees who weren’t giving presentations were invited to introduce themselves to the group. Ed had prepared a power point slide on each participant. It was a surprise to some of us that we had to go up and give the introduction. I talked about my relationship with Martin and my work with ThinkFun. Well, Neil’s name came up and up went this 13 year old. He talked about his blog called Random and some of his interests in mathematics. It was remarkable to see this very young person speak so well. Even when Neil was done and was walking off the stage, Ed himself said, “Wow I’ve read his blog and didn’t realize he was so young.” I was intrigued so I went up and introduced myself to Neil. It turns out his mom home schools him and they had gotten an invitation to G4G through Bill Gosper who they knew. Neil was a delightful young person and it turns out he had an insightful conversation with Stephen Wolfram at G4G as well. Neil has read Stephen’s A New Kind of Science (multiple times which is no small feat as it’s a 5 lb book – I know its weight because he included it as part of the exchange gift so I carried it home!) and they discussed cellular automata and other things. An amazing young man I look forward to following as he’s sure to do some incredible things.
I met the father of polyominoes Solomon Golomb. I use his Polyominoes book whenever we are developing a game with polyomino pieces. I talked with him at Tom Rodgers house and he generously signed a note to Martin for me. It was fun to sit with him and Jeremiah Farrell and Ivan Moscovich over dinner and listen to them banter with each other.
At Tom’s house there was a Go board set out to play. Elwyn Berlekamp was in the middle of a game when I walked by. I asked him later if he had won and he said he had. Elwyn is one of the authors of the best book on the mathematics of games called Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays so I can imagine he’d be a difficult opponent to beat for most games!
Another author of Winning Ways was at the Gathering, Richard Guy. I first met Richard a few years ago after Martin (Gardner) had told me about the Strens Collection that Richard had brought to the University of Calgary. I was speaking at a conference at Banff and had contacted Richard prior to my trip. Richard invited me to come see the collection. So I was honoured to have a personal tour of the collection by Richard himself. This collection has over 6000 recreational mathematics books and puzzles and games including original Escher prints. Strens and Escher had been friends so many of the books also have beautiful book plates that were made by Escher.
I met David Singmaster once again at the Gathering. He is most famous for his solutions book he published on the Rubik’s Cube. He’s fun to talk to because he knows so much about puzzles and books. He’s someone I’d go to if I ever had any historical questsions about books or puzzles. He must have an incredible collection.
Dale Seymour was again at the Gathering. He gave a presentation this year on the sculpture below he had made as well as the many math sculptures he has at his own house. His property looks like a mathematical wonderland! He had shipped this sculpture to Tom’s house and this was no small feat! When I was in the classroom I used a lot of books from Dale’s publishing company and have always respected the work he has done for mathematics education. He is a giant in my world so it is always a thrill for me to talk with him.
The first day of the Gathering I met Catherine and her husband Paul. Catherine had told me about how she had just ventured through the journey of building a Green House. They looked at the embodied energy of building a house right from harvesting the resources to living in the home. She had just given a TED Talk about her experiences.
I met Adrian Fisher for the first time at G4G9. I have spoken to him on the phone numerous times so this was a treat to meet him face to face. Adrian is a world renowned maze designer. His presentation at the Gathering showcased the numerous newspaper puzzles, magazine articles and games he has designed using mazes. I look forward to working on a project with him one day! I also saw Kate Jones at the Gathering. Kate is a fellow IPP’er so it’s always a pleasure to see her again. We are kindred spirits when it comes to puzzles and their use for good in education. She is very passionate about puzzles and I love that. Her website Kadon Enterprises is wonderful!
There were two people I regret not making an introduction to at the Gathering this year. I listened to their talks and would have loved to have met them. The first was Stephen Wolfram. His talk was on Wolfram Alpha and he gave a similar TED talk. His Mathematica, Wolfram Alpha and A New Kind of Science are incredible. It would have been fascinating to talk with him as this is one very passionate individual. The other person I would have loved to personally have met was Pablos Holman. His talk on Hackers & Invention was fascinating. I found a similar talk he gave at another conference on ForaTV. He talked about looking at things from the eyes of a hacker. A hotel room is not simply a place to sleep but rather an opportunity to hack into the hotel network. He also talked about his work at Intellectual Ventures Lab where they look at creating futuristic inventions.
I have one more post I’d like to write about G4G9. As you know, it is the people that I love connecting with. There were some great social moments I’d like to write about next. Stay tuned…