Puzzles are instructive, Mr. Gardner found, for they teach us to appreciate hidden structures of the world that are not owned by any particular discipline and are potentially useful to all. He saw the world as resembling not a magazine, where the subject of each section bears little relation to that of the next, but a well-written novel, where ideas introduced in one chapter are apt to reappear—transformed, modulated and extended—in others. He taught his readers to see the world in the same way, inculcating in them an openness and alertness to the often surprising possibilities of the world, and the desire to seek them out.
That’s from the WSJ. The story is about the reclusive mathematician who wrote Scientific American’s puzzle column between 1956 and 1981 and the cultish math-geek gatherings that now happen in his honor every two years. The entire story is worth reading and includes notes on cognition, neuroscience, and even references the indomitable Stephen Wolfram.