Prizes and Other Recognition

There’s no question that recognition is one thing that keeps writers going. The recognition can take a very humble form — an appreciative letter to the editor or e-mail from a reader, for example. Occasionally, the recognition is of a more official variety. Here are a few honors that I have accumulated along the way.

  • The 2012 Communications Award, presented by the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, recognized me for “a remarkably broad and deep body of writing for experts and non-experts alike.”
  • My article A Tisket, A Tasket, An Apollonian Gasket, which originally appeared in American Scientist, was chosen for The Best Writing on Mathematics 2011, published by Princeton University Press.
  • The Big Splat was named as one of the top audio books of 2010 by
  • The Big Splat was named to the Editor’s Choice list for 2003, selected by Booklist magazine. (It was one of only four science books for adults chosen that year.)
  • I won the George PĆ³lya Award for mathematical exposition in 1993, for my article Triquetras and Porisms, which appeared in The College Mathematics Journal. (Click here to download the PDF directly.) The “Triquetra Theorem,” the centerpiece of the paper, is a really cool theorem that shows that standard, plane Euclidean geometry still holds some surprises! One of my colleagues said he would “eat his hat” if Theorem 7 turned out to be true. It did, and he didn’t.
  • If you really want to go back a long way, my very first publication (and first writing prize) came in 1969, when I was in sixth grade! A rather dreadful poem that I wrote, called “Tornado,” was a prizewinner in a statewide (Indiana) poetry contest for grade-school students. It was published in an anthology called “Sounds of the Sixties.” Hey, we’ve all gotta start somewhere.



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