It looks like any other Rubik's cube, but for the little mechanical squeaks it makes as he scrambles it. He puts it down on the table and watches it in silence for a while. Then it moves.
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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?
Now see if you can arrange them in a circle with only three moves. The two rules: you can slide them but not pick them up, and you must move them to a position where they are touching two other coins.
Here is a video explaining the rules a bit more, but spoiler alert: don't go past 2:37 unless you want to see how it's done.
Weird Al Yankovic co-authored today's New York Times crossword puzzle. His collaborator was crossword constructor Eric Berlin who writes in the puzzle notes:
We batted around a few theme ideas, some of which seemed worth developing but none of which made it to the finish line. I suggested “The ____ Film Festival,” with that blank to be filled in with whatever struck Al’s fancy. He replied with a long list of cheese/movie puns, and I had no doubt that we had a winner. My very first attempt at the grid included one of my favorites from his list, QUESOBLANCA. I was under the misapprehension that queso is not just the Spanish word for cheese but also a specific kind of cheese. Whoops, not quite. (This was entirely on me, I should note — Al, not knowing during his brainstorming that the end result would be restricted to specific cheeses, had several cheese-adjacent puns in his list, including FONDUE THE RIGHT THING and CHEESY RIDER.)
Tenyo is a Japanese magic trick company that's been around since 1960. They are well known for making clever props. (My friend Richard Kaufman, who often writes for Boing Boing, wrote a 1,400-page two-volume set about the company, called Tenyoism)
Here's a Tenyo puzzle trick called The Perpetual Puzzle (It's available on Amazon). You start by showing a rectangle made from 5 pieces. The rectangle fits snugly in a black plastic frame. Next, you show a sixth piece and combine it to the other five to make a larger rectangle. This rectangle also fits perfectly inside the frame. Finally, you show an even larger seventh piece, add it to the other six to form a rectangle. It, too, fits into the frame. How is it done? (If you know, please don't reveal the secret in the comments.) Read the rest
Watch the video to make sure my summary here is right: You are in a dark room with a pile of coins. The coins have a silver side and a gold side. You know two things about the coins. There are hundreds coins. 20 of the coins are silver side up and the rest are gold side up. It's your job to make two piles of coins that have the same number of silver side up coins. The room is in total darkness and each coin feels the same on both coins.
This video says there in "a surprisingly easy solution." I haven't solved it yet but I have a pile of nickels and I'm going to give it a try.
Here's the set up: two cars are side by side on the road. One car is going 70mph and the other is going 100mph. The drivers of the cars see a fallen tree in the road and start braking at the same time. The car that had been going 70mph stops right before touching the tree. How fast is the other car going when it hits the tree? The answer surprised me. Read the rest
Puzzle designer Fleb explains the rules for solving masyu logic puzzles, then solves one, explaining his logic. Read the rest