Imagine that you're making a magic potion. You're a wizard with a long beard. But -- the potion only works if you wait exactly 45 minutes before you stir it. If you stir it before or after the potion's totally ruined. You don't have a smartphone. You don't have a watch. You don't have any kind of time measuring device. What you have is two fuses of irregular consistency. The one thing you know for a fact is that it takes an hour for each of these fuses to burn from one end to the other. How do you use these to measure exactly 45 minutes?
Image: Scam Nation/YouTube
I'm still trying to figure this one out, so I'm not looking at the comments yet! Read the rest
Martin Raynsford makes beautiful and intricate wooden puzzles with space-filling fractal curves and is kickstartering a set of four.
The pattern is a single line that crosses all of the two dimensional space without ever repeating. The puzzles follow these simple rules to break the line into multiple pieces that are almost identical but are actually unique. The pieces are so similar in style that once they are placed into the puzzle it is hard to see where the pieces are. The puzzles can be tricky to solve even if you have the solution on hand.
The puzzles are made from a high quality 3mm, 6 Ply, BR Grade, Birch Laser Plywood sheet. It shows the natural look of the wood and will have natural colour variations. Each puzzle is 200x200mm in size, the pieces are 3mm thick and the whole puzzle inside the tray is 6mm thick.
For immediate gratification, you can also hit up his Etsy Store; the Cryptex box (Note that it's for PLANS only, you'll need to cut and make it yourself) looks like a great gift for the smartest egg in your family. Read the rest
Here are three two lateral thinking puzzles that were new to me. They're from the book, Lateral Thinking Puzzles (1991), by Paul Sloane.
Death in the Field
A man is lying dead in the field. Next to him is an unopened package. There is no other creature in the field. How did he die?
Death in Rome
Mr. Jones is reading his daily newspaper. He read an article with the following headline: “Woman dies in holiday accident.“ It goes on to say, “Mrs. Rigby-Brown, while on holiday with her husband in Rome, fell to her death from the balcony of her seventh-floor room.“
Mr. Jones turns to his wife and says “That was not an accident. It was murder.“ He had never met either of the Rigby-Browns, so how could he know it was murder?
One of my favorite puzzle books as a kid was Perplexing Puzzles and Tantalizing Teasers, by Martin Gardner. It had fun "real life" type problems (how can you drive an 11-foot-9 truck under a bridge with 11-foot-8 clearance?) and it introduced me to palindromes ("Straw? No, too stupid a fad. I put soot on warts.")
Here's another "real life" puzzle: a person brings four pieces of a broken bracelet to a jeweler and asks him to repair it. The jeweler says he charges $1 for each link he cuts apart and welds together again. "Since I have to cut and weld four links, the job will cost you four dollars." But the customer correctly tells the jeweler he can make the bracelet by cutting and welding only three links. How? Read the rest
I've been reading a 1978 book called The Art of Problem Solving, by Russell L. Ackoff. (Used copies sell for $7 including shipping on Amazon). At the beginning of the book, Ackoff tells about the time his school-age daughter came home with a familiar puzzle. On a piece of paper, there are nine dots arranged in three rows of three, like this:
The challenge is to put a pen on the paper and, without lifting the pen, draw four straight lines that go through all nine dots. You probably remember this puzzle, because it's been around for a long time. Ackoff remembered it, too, but he'd forgotten the solution. But he came up with another way to solve it. He folded the paper so two rows of dots touched each other and used a felt pen to draw through both rows with one stroke. Then he unfolded the paper and drew two more lines to cover the rest of the dots.
When Ackoff's daughter went to school the next day, she started to show the teacher the solution her father came up with. As soon as she began folding the paper, the teacher stopped her and said she was not allowed to fold the paper, even though the instructions didn't say she couldn't.
"This is how creativity is suppressed, although usually not so overtly," writes Ackoff. "The teacher made it clear to her class that the objective of the assignment was not to find a solution to the problem, but to find the solution she knew and could pretend to have discovered on her own. Read the rest
Magician David Kwong moonlights (er, daylights?) as a crossword puzzle creator for the New York Times. In the parlance of the craft, he is a "cruciverbalist," one who is adept at making, or solving, crossword puzzles. (Wired) Read the rest
Sometimes I blog about something and it goes nowhere, much like this girl's domino:
Sometimes I blog about something and it continues to weave its way to the many corners of the internet, much like this:
But, sometimes I blog about something and it starts a chain reaction that looks more like this (I looked for a domino video that featured fireworks and confetti but came up short):
In other words, it goes viral. Now, on November 11, I blogged about Tim Klein's "puzzle montages" and I believe it's the most-viral post I've written in my over-seven-year professional blogging career. While I don't have the exact numbers, I have been watching it quickly spread across the planet and I feel certain that it is. Today, I thought it would be fun to pull back the curtain a little to show you what "going viral" looks like from "backstage."
[TL;DR version (and, warning, this post IS entirely TOO LONG): The post I wrote about Tim Klein's puzzle montages went nuts! Media outlets from around the globe picked up the story (digital, print, TV), some linked back to Boing Boing, some didn't. Tim got TONS of fan mail, all of his art sold, and now he's being offered gallery shows. Well... he and I talked and we plan to take it to the next level together (note: we didn't know each other before all of this). We first want to build a community of people who love puzzle mashups. Want to learn more? Read the rest
Oh boy, I think I have a new hobby. I've just learned that you can combine puzzles, that have the same die cut, to make really awesome pieces of art. It had never occurred to me that manufacturers of mass-produced puzzles cut different puzzles of theirs in the same way, making the pieces interchangeable. It makes complete sense, of course, but my mind is still blown!
I learned about the art of "puzzle montage" from one of the readers of my inbox zine, Marcia Wiley (she's the gal in Seattle who's fixing up that cool old Checker Cab). She was visiting the Bay Area and we met up for the first time this past Friday. That's when she told me about her friend Tim Klein, who makes incredible puzzle montages. I'm excited to share his work with you.
In an email exchange, Tim told me that he learned about puzzle montages from the man who first made them, art professor Mel Andringa of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, "As far as I know, he and I are the only artists ever to pursue it seriously. And I think he's moved on to other things nowadays, so I may be the sole surviving practitioner."
And this is what Tim shared with me about his process:
Read the rest
...By selecting pieces from two or more compatible puzzles, I assemble a single "puzzle mashup" with surreal imagery that the publisher never imagined.
Sometimes the results are merely chuckle-making, such as my combination of King Tut's burial mask with the front of a truck, which I call "King of the Road".
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Math 4 Love founder Dan Finkel writes:
You’ve been chosen as a champion to represent your wizarding house in a deadly duel against two rival magic schools. Your opponents are a powerful sorcerer who wields a wand that can turn people into fish, and a powerful enchantress who wields a wand that turns people into statues. Can you choose a wand and devise a strategy that ensures you will win the duel?