Polycube Puzzle, SOMA Cube

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Description
The SOMA cube is a three-dimensional arrangement puzzle devised in 1936 by the Danish poet and puzzler Peter Hein (1905-1996) while he was a student listening to a lecture on quantum mechanics by Werner Heisenberg. The seven pieces represent all the ways three or four cubes can be arranged, other than in a straight line. In addition to forming a cube, the pieces can form in a wide array of other surfaces. According to Slocum and Bosterman, the name SOMA is taken from a drug envisioned in Aldous Huxley’s book Brave New World. The drug SOMA induced a dreamlike trance.
This example of the puzzle is made from light blue plastic. It closely resembles one sold by Parker Brothers from the late 1960s.
References:
Martin Gardner, The Colossal Book of Mathematics, New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001, pp. 398-408. Gardner first wrote a column about the puzzle in 1958.
Martin Gardner, Knotted Doughnuts and Other Mathematical Entertainments, New York: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1986, pp. 28-43.
[Advertisement], The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., November 30,1969, p. 214. The puzzle by Parker Bothers sold for $1.57.
Jerry Slocum and Jack Botermans, Puzzles Old and New: How to Make and Solve Them, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1986, pp. 40-41.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1970
maker
Parker Brothers
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 8.6 cm x 8.6 cm x 8.6 cm; 3 3/8 in x 3 3/8 in x 3 3/8 in
overall: 8.6 cm x 8.6 cm x 8.6 cm; 3 3/8 in x 3 3/8 in x 3 3/8 in
ID Number
2012.0091.04
accession number
2012.0091
catalog number
2012.0091.04
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Judy Green
subject
Mathematics
Education
Mathematical Recreations
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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