Manifold - a pad a 100 origami puzzles

I think someone on the BBS mentioned that Manifold was a fun origami puzzle challenge (thank you, whoever you are!). I ordered it on Amazon for $8. It's a pad of 100 square sheets of paper, printed with white and black squares on one side, and nothing (except folding guides) on the other side. The object is to fold each sheet so that all the white squares are on one side, and all the black ones are on the other. I just did two of them, and it was so much fun that I'm saving the rest for a long flight I have coming up.

Here's a PDF you can print out to try five puzzles. Read the rest

How do you fit this wooden square inside a smaller cloth bag?

Fleb is a puzzle designer and puzzle collector. In this video, he shows how to fit a wooden square into a bag that looks too small. "Square in the Bag" was the 2012 Puzzle of the Year and was created by Hirokazu Iwasawa. Read the rest

Good puzzle: connect the six boxes without crossing any lines

Draw a line connecting the two boxes labeled 1. Draw another line connnecting the boxes labeled 2. Draw a third line connecting the boxes labeled 3. The lines can't intersect. The lines can't go beyond the bounds of the rectangle enclosing them. [ADD: The lines don't have to be straight.] There's nothing tricky or disappointing about the solution. (Here's the solution.) Read the rest

The Art of Play for the Holidays

Let's take the path less traveled for some holiday gift giving. Two brothers well known in the world of magic and cardistry , Dan and Dave Buck, have a number of enterprises going, including a website called Art of Play . While its nucleus is the sale of unique decks of playing cards, the site has expanded greatly under the guidance of Adam Rubin, the "Director of Puzzles and Games."

We travel the world in search of objects designed to dazzle the eyes and fascinate the mind. From luxurious playing cards to ingenious puzzles and stimulating amusements—each beautiful item in our collection holds a whisper of mystery, brimming with potential for surprise and delight.

25 Days of Christmas Extravaganza! Whatever you celebrate this December, we're honoring you and the ones you love with our 25 Days of Christmas extravaganza. Every day through December 25th we will offer either a free gift or an exclusive item, such as a rare deck of playing cards. Offers are limited to one day only. To take part, just be sure you're subscribed to our newsletter.

I'm personally not much interested in fancy decks of cards—I do my card tricks the old-fashioned way, using Bicycle Rider back cards from the U.S. Playing Card Company. But if, for example, you're a fan of Neil Patrick Harris (who also does magic in addition to being able to sing, dance, act, emcee, etc. and so on) then you might find this special deck interesting.

NPH Playing Cards ($10.00)

Neil Patrick Harris Playing Cards are elegant, intricate, and visually stunning.

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Watch a robot solve a Rubiks Cube in 0.637 seconds

Today, classic puzzles. Tomorrow, deep-dreamed enemies of freedom! Read the rest

The math behind solving the Rubik's Cube

In this Scientific American video, Rubik's Cube master Ian Scheffler, author of the new book Cracking the Cube, explains some of the math behind "speedcubing." Scheduler's book sounds fascinating even though the only way I could get my Rubik's Cube solved is to hand it to my 10-year-old son's friend Luc who was the first to dazzle me with the fine art of speedcubery.

From the description of Cracking the Cube:

When Hungarian professor Ernő Rubik invented the Rubik’s Cube (or, rather, his Cube) in the 1970s out of wooden blocks, rubber bands, and paper clips, he didn’t even know if it could be solved, let alone that it would become the world’s most popular puzzle. Since its creation, the Cube has become many things to many people: one of the bestselling children’s toys of all time, a symbol of intellectual prowess, a frustrating puzzle with 43.2 quintillion possible permutations, and now a worldwide sporting phenomenon that is introducing the classic brainteaser to a new generation.

In Cracking the Cube, Ian Scheffler reveals that cubing isn’t just fun and games. Along with participating in speedcubing competitions—from the World Championship to local tournaments—and interviewing key figures from the Cube’s history, he journeys to Budapest to seek a meeting with the legendary and notoriously reclusive Rubik, who is still tinkering away with puzzles in his seventies.

Getting sucked into the competitive circuit himself, Scheffler becomes engrossed in solving Rubik’s Cube in under twenty seconds, the quasi-mystical barrier known as “sub-20,” which is to cubing what four minutes is to the mile: the difference between the best and everyone else.

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The Armchair Detective Company makes immersive puzzles and tactile 3D objects

If you’re fascinated by paper art and pop-up books, then the name of 51-year old Robert Sabuda will resonate like that of a Zen master. He’s a legend in the world of children’s books, paper design, and engineering, with many famous books to his credit (my favorites are The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland).

Photo of Robert Sabuda by Zymeet

Kind of like a pop-up book equivalent of The Avengers, Sabuda has embarked on a new adventure in collaboration with Shelby Arnold and Simon Arizpe called The Armchair Detective Company. You can also follow them on Facebook. Read the rest

The best book of physics brain teasers

I bought Thinking Physics, by Lewis C. Epstein in 1984. It's one of my favorite books of brain teasers. They are designed to help you gain a qualitative, intuitive sense of physics. The author stresses that after you read each of the many charmingly illustrated problems in the book, you should put the book away and take your time running a simulation of the problem in your head. This is great advice. Read the rest

Puzzle: is the bike moving left or right?

"You come upon the track of a bicycle in the mud. Was the bicycle traveling to the left or the right?" Visit Futility Closet for the solution. I haven't looked yet, as I'm still riding a bike in my mind, to see where the tracks go. Read the rest

How to divide a cake fairly among a group of people

Here's a puzzle from Martin Gardner's "Mathematical Games" column, which ran for many years in Scientific American. I found it in his anthology, My Best Mathematical and Logic Puzzles, which is only $3.42 on Amazon.

There is a simple procedure by which two people can divide a cake so that each is satisfied he has at least half: One cuts and the other chooses. Devise a general procedure so that n persons can cut a cake into n portions in such a way that everyone is satisfied he has at least 1/n of the cake.

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Can you solve the "scrambled box tops" puzzle?

Here's a puzzle from Martin Gardner's Mathematical Games column, which ran for many years in Scientific American. I found it in his anthology, My Best Mathematical and Logic Puzzles, which is only $3.76 on Amazon.

Imagine that you have three boxes, one containing two black marbles, one containing two white marbles, and the third, one black marble and one white marble. The boxes were labeled for their contents – BB, BW, WW – but someone switched the labels so that every box is now incorrectly labeled. You are allowed to take one marble at a time out of any box, without looking inside, and by this process of sampling you are to determine the contents of all three boxes. What is the smallest number of drawings needed to do this?

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Can you solve Martin Gardner's "coin of the realm" puzzle?

The Colossal Book of Short Puzzles and Problems is a 512-page collection of puzzles from the Martin Gardner's beloved Scientific American column. The easier puzzles are at the front of each section, and become more difficult as you progress. Here's one of the easy ones:

In the United States at least eight coins are required to make the sum of 99 cents: a half-dollar, a quarter, two dimes, and four pennies. Imagine yourself the leader of a small, newly independent nation. You have the task of setting up a system of coinage based on the cent as the smallest unit. Your objective is to issue the smallest number of different coins that will enable any value from 1 to 100 cents (inclusive) to be made with no more than two coins.

For example, the objective is easily met with 18 coins of the following values:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90.

Can you do better? Every value must be obtainable either by one coin or as a sum of two coins. The two coins need not, of course, have different values.

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The "rising chimp" problem

The new book, Einstein's Puzzle Universe, by Tim Dedopulos, is a compendium of good physics and logic problems. Here's one for you to solve:

Imagine that there is an even rope of negligible weight draped over a wheel, which permits it to slide perfectly freely. Equal lengths of the rope descend from either side. On the left side, the rope ends in a 10 kg weight. On the other side, perfectly level with the weight, is a young chimp, also weighing 10 kg.

When you give a signal, the chimp will start climbing the rope. Which of the two, the chimp or the weight, will reach the top first?

Image: Shutterstock Read the rest

The Missing Dollar puzzle from Martin Gardner's Aha! Gotcha book series

Martin Gardner wrote Aha! Gotcha: Paradoxes to Puzzle and Delight and Aha! Insight in the early 1980s and I love them both. Both books have excellent brain teasers with charming illustrations. They are both out of print, which is criminal, but Amazon has used copies for $0.01 (plus $3.99 s&h).

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Can you solve the locker riddle?

Your rich, eccentric uncle just passed away, and you and your 99 nasty relatives have been invited to the reading of his will. He wanted to leave all of his money to you, but he knew that if he did, your relatives would pester you forever. Can you solve the riddle he left for you and get the inheritance?

Here's the full lesson, taught by Lisa Winer for TED Ed.

[via] Read the rest

Rush Hour Shift – A strategic twist on the classic get-the-car-unstuck logic game

See more photos at Wink Fun.

Rush Hour Shift is an entertaining twist on the classic get-the-car-unstuck logic game. Instead of a single player working through pre-designed puzzles, now there are two players working against each other in a constantly changing landscape. The manual includes instructions for ten basic board set-ups to start. Following these instructions, players are positioned at opposite ends of the board while cars of different sizes and colors are placed between them. The object of the game is to get your car (Silver versus Gold) to the other side of the board.

Each player is dealt four cards, and on your turn you play one of your cards and do what it says. There are four card types: Move, Shift, Slide, and Move & Shift. Move cards allow you to move any car (except your opponent’s car) the number of squares indicated on the card. You can also strategically split up the number among cars, so if you play a three you could move one car two spaces and another car one space, or you could move three cars one space. Shift cards allow you to move the board itself, and this is probably the coolest aspect of the game. The game board is built with three interlocking pieces, and when you play a shift card you can move either of the end pieces as far as you want. So you can literally remove the path from your opponent so they have nowhere to go. Slide cards allow you to move as many spaces you want until something blocks your path. Read the rest

Can you solve all 100 of these stylish, simple puzzles?

It's low-key; solving one hundred of these feels like an attainable goal. I mean, probably. Try it.

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