Polycube Puzzle, SOMA Cube

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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.
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.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1970
Parker Brothers
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
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
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Judy Green
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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