In this exhibit you have a chance to try out three geometric puzzles, the Chinese Puzzle, the Three Rings and Packing Squares. Did you manage to solve them?
Geometric puzzles challenge us: they make us think logically and often the solution is not the obvious way we would think of to solve them. (“Geometric” means “to do with shapes”.)
We encounter puzzles all the time. Even packing up a car to go on holiday can be thought of as a puzzle. You normally have a number of bags and boxes of different shapes, to fit into the irregular shape of your boot. Sometimes the best way to fit them in might not be the most obvious.
Jigsaw puzzles are a common kind of puzzle. In most jigsaws we try to put together a picture from pieces of different shapes. However some, much harder, jigsaws don’t have a picture, or just have a repetitive pattern, so you can only use the shapes of the pieces to put them together.
Sudoku is a different kind of puzzle. In Sudoku we have to fit numbers into a grid so a number appears in a row, column or block only once. This kind of puzzle tests our logic, but does not make use of geometric shapes.
One of the most well known puzzles is the Rubik’s cube, invented in 1974 by Ernõ Rubik. In a Rubik’s cube you have to twist the faces of the cube, until each face of the cube is all one colour. Rubik’s cubes are incredibly hard to do. Most of us will fiddle with a Rubik’s cube for hours on end, without seeming to get anywhere, but some people can solve Rubik’s cubes in less than ten seconds.