What an incredible time I had at Gathering 4 Gardner 9. It was amazing. My first G4G8 in 2008. I remember thinking then how could this experience get any better? Now I know how – the people. Since I started working for ThinkFun in 2007, I have come to know many in the international puzzle community. So now these gatherings feel like a gathering of friends. And icing on the cake is that now I’m getting to know many of the magicians and mathematicians here too. I’d like to introduce you to some of them in this post. There are so many, however, I’ll start with these.
I met John Conway again this year. It was great to talk with him. His presentation on Lexicode or C3 was interesting. I was thrilled I could follow along. The main problem was “Are lexicodes closed under any natural notions of (coordinatewise) addition and scalar multiplication?” I talked with John later and he said this lecture was an old standby for him. I think he’s looking well in this photo. He had a mini-stroke last year and physically it was affecting him. John is an incredible mathematician. He is a professor at Princeton and has had many accolades in his career. Martin Gardner told me about a beautiful book on current mathematicians. It is called Mathematicians: An Outer View of the Inner World by Marina Cook. Martin’s favourite article in the book was about John Conway.
Interestingly, John Conway was accompanied to the G4G9 by Siobhan Roberts because she is writing John’s biography. I got to know Siobhan at this conference and she was really wonderful. She is a fellow Canadian and I first heard about her a couple of years ago when Martin Gardner recommended I read her book King of Infinite Space: Donald Coxeter, the Man Who Saved Geometry. I love reading about the human side of famous mathematicians and I found this book delightful. I remember at the last Gathering, John told me then about his concerns about having a biography written about him. He was trying to decide at that point if he’d allow Siobhan do his biography. He obviously did! I can’t wait for this one to be published!
I was happy to see Will Shortz again at the Gathering. I met Will for the first time in 2006 at my first International Puzzle Party. At that time he was promoting his movie called Word Play which is a journey into Will’s life and his fame in crosswords. I talked with him at this Gathering about Sandra Bullock’s movie All About Steve and how she mentions him at the end of the movie. He told me that Sandra had visited him at his house and they had spent some time together as she was trying to learn more about the world of crosswords. He’s an extremely nice guy and he is also very passionate about table tennis too!
I should also introduce you to some magicians at G4G9. I have to start with Mark Setteducati. I met him in 2008 at the NY Toy Fair. He always hosts a dinner during the fair. It was then when I met David Blaine as he is a friend of Mark’s. But it was this year at the Nuremburg Toy Fair that I really got to know Mark. We were at a dinner with other puzzlers and magicians where Mark gave me such encouragement in my new role as Inventor Relations. I was feeling very green and he was so supportive. It meant a lot and I was so happy to get to know him better. He attends all the toy fairs around the world so I will luckily be seeing him lots!
Another magician I met was Lennart Green. Mark approached me on Friday and asked if I’d be Lennart’s personal assistant at the magic show that night. I was honoured! So I took care of Lennart during the show to make sure he was traveling to the correct places and I shuffled and cut cards when he asked. It was a lot of fun and I really appreciated Mark asking me to help out! Lennart is a world class magician and so highly respected. Some of the magic tricks he did were mind blowing. The brains it takes to remember some of the intricacies of the tricks is incredible!
I hope you enjoyed reading my first post about the incredible people who attend G4G. The buzz around the conference this year was that the bar was raised for subsequent years as the conference was so phenomenal. And it was! One thing that was really evident during all the incredible talks at the conference was that the common thread of all the attendees is that this was a group of very passionate people. Whether it be about polyonimoes, reptile tiling, magic, or hacking didn’t matter, what was clear, these people are passionate about what they do.
What kinds of things are you passionate about? Is it hockey, bird watching, backgammon, sky diving, pencil collecting, your pet rock collection?? I’d love to hear about yours!