Here's a brain teaser from the Art of Play newsletter. I have not tried to solve it yet.
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A lazy electrician is hired to fix the wiring in a tall building. In the basement are three buttons labeled, “A, B & C.” On the top floor of the building there are three ceiling fans in three different apartments labeled, “1, 2 & 3.” The landlord tells the electrician that each button in the basement is connected to one of the three fans upstairs—press the button once, and the fan turns on. Press it twice, and that same fan turns off. The problem is, no one knows which button controls which fan.
There is no elevator in the building and the electrician is very lazy so he will only climb up the stairs to the top floor once. It will take him nearly an hour to climb all the stairs and he refuses to use any assistance of any kind in order to complete this job. If it is impossible to see the fans from outside of their respective apartments, how does the electrician discover which button controls which fan once he climbs up the stairs for the first (and last) time?
Tim from Grand Illusions shows off the neat puzzles he picked up at the 2017 toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany.
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Every February, Tim visits the toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany. He is not sure if this was the 37th time or the 38th time! Anyway, Tim spends a number of days there, visiting every stand, searching out novel and entertaining items, both for his own toy collection, and also for the Grand Illusions Toy Shop.
When I was in college I read and greatly enjoyed Raymond Smullyan logical puzzles books, especially What Is the Name of This Book? He died last week at the age of 97.
From the NYTimes:
Professor Smullyan was a serious mathematician, with the publications and the doctorate to prove it. But his greatest legacy may be the devilishly clever logic puzzles that he devised, presenting them in numerous books or just in casual conversation.
Sometimes they were one-offs, and sometimes they were embedded in longer narratives to explain mathematical concepts, such as Boolean logic, as he did in “The Magic Garden of George B and Other Logic Puzzles” in 2015; or retrograde analysis, as he explored in the “The Chess Mysteries of the Arabian Knights” in 1981.
He was also a character. With his long white hair and beard, Professor Smullyan resembled Ian McKellen’s wizard, Gandalf, from the “Lord of the Rings” film series. He was lanky, hated exercise and loved steak and eggs. He studied Eastern religion. He told corny jokes and performed close-up magic to anyone near him. He played the piano with passion and talent into his 90s. (A career in music had been derailed by tendinitis when he was a young man.)
How do you remove the hidden coin from the Lotus Box? Fleb knows!
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Finding a copy of "The Lotus Box" will be difficult, as not many were made. Your best bet is to find a collector who has one they're willing to part with, or contact a specialty puzzle shop. I bought mine at Eureka Puzzles in Brookline, MA.
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.
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
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.
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NPH Playing Cards ($10.00)
Neil Patrick Harris Playing Cards are elegant, intricate, and visually stunning.
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:
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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.
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).
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
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