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.)
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
Puzzle designer Fleb shows how to solve a "cave puzzle," which is a logic puzzle that reminds me a bit of sudoku. It looks fun! Read the rest
If an entire 3x3 Rubik's Cube is too much, but a 2x2 one too plainly insulting, try this 2x3 one that you can get for about a fiver at Amazon. That's four ninths of a real Rubik's Cube for nine tenths of the price!
The product page assures you in its first bullet point that this puzzle contains "no fabrics." SOLD. Read the rest
This stunning line of geologically-inspired jigsaw puzzles, named Geode, is the creation of Massachusetts-based generative design studio and retailer Nervous System.
As described in their blog:
Geode is a jigsaw puzzle inspired by the formation of agate, a colorful banded stone. Each puzzle is unique, emerging from a computer simulation that creates natural variations in the shape, pieces, and image. Hundreds of lasercut plywood pieces intertwine to form a challenging, maze-like puzzle. Each geode is a slice of an algorithmic rock.
Fans of The Perplexus (one of my favorite puzzles) might be interested in Zenth, a 3D wooden labyrinth on Kickstarter. As in The Perplexus, the object is to guide a steel ball through a multiplanar labyrinth. In fact, the creator of Zenth was a student of the creator of The Perplexus, Michael McGinnis (who wrote an article for me about designing The Perplexus when I was editor-in-chief of Make).
If you've ever tried to fold a fitted sheet, you probably know you can't just fold it like a regular sheet. If you are like me, you will just wad it up and hide your shameful attempt in the closet. Here's a woman made of better stuff than me, who has conquered the fitted sheet conundrum. The first video shows you how to fold a fitted sheet without elastic all around the edges, and the second video shows how to fold one with elastic all around the edges.
Menseki meiro means "area mazes." It's a new puzzle genre that challenges you to derive the length or area of rectangles based on the given dimensions of neighboring rectangles. I got an advance copy of Area Mazes, with 100 puzzles. It's addictive. They start out easy. The later ones are very difficult.
Here are the rules:
Here's an easy one:
Here's a hard one:
The Riddler has poisoned Catwoman. He tells Batman he can save her by giving her an antidote, which is in one of 1000 barrels in a room. The other 999 barrels have more poison. The Riddler will let Batman use his antidote detecting machine. What is the smallest number of tests he needs to conduct to guarantee he finds the antidote?
This is a cool stop-motion Lego video version of the poisoned wine problem I posted earlier this year:
Read the rest
You are a king and have invited 1,000 guests to a party. Each guest has brought one bottle of wine. But before any of the wine has been opened, your chief spy takes you aside and tells you that he is certain that one, and only one, bottle of wine contains a poison that will kill anyone who drinks even a drop. The poison takes one hour to kick in. The king has 10 prisoners he doesn't mind killing. How does he use them to identify the poison wine and get rid of the bottle (and the person who brought it) so he can get on with the party?
Puzzle designer Fleb takes a look at the Instant Insanity puzzle, which was patented in 1899. It reminds me of a cross between Rubik's Cube and sudoku.
I like Fleb's videos because he teaches you general principles of puzzle solving, not just how to solve a particular puzzle. Read the rest
A couple of days ago I mentioned the the MoYu YJ Lingpo 2 x 2 x 2 Speed Cube. I still haven't solved it, but I wanted to make a quick video to show how smooth it is. The little cubes rotate around a plastic sphere, and are connected by springs. It's practically impossible to jam it, unlike every other Rubik's Cube I've used. I thought it would be a snap to solve, having only 8 cubes (compared to the
27 26 cubes of a regular Rubik's cube) but it turns out I'm even dumber than I thought. I'm not giving up! Read the rest
I've never solved Rubik's Cube, but I've never seriously tried. One reason is that most of the cubes I've used are poorly made. They lock up when I try rotating a section, which is frustrating. I did a bit of research and was told to get the Moyu Weilong GTS2 ($15). It's a little smaller than the standard Rubik's Cube, which is a plus, because it's more comfortable to handle. And it's very smooth to turn, because of the rounded off interior corners. I also got the MoYu YJ Lingpo 2 x 2 x 2 Speed Cube, which I'm going to try to tackle first.