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Puzzle Solving

Besides Rubik’s cubes, I haven’t been exposed to an impressive number of physical puzzles, but I find the idea of puzzles and their subset, brain teasers, to be fascinating. I believe that in the future, when I have more money to spare on entertainment, I will begin to purchase and prototype my own lock puzzles and more difficult Rubik’s-Cube-inspired puzzles. I have solved 3x3x3 cubes thousands of times and 4x4x4 cubes a few times, but I have only solved the cube-based puzzle called the Megaminx once, with help.

There are countless versions of these puzzles that I have yet to encounter, each with its own unique sets of algorithms necessary for solving them. Lock puzzles don’t generally require algorithms, though, and instead tend to test the solver’s real problem-solving ability through hidden mechanisms and patterns. I’ve seen these kinds of puzzles solved by certain YouTube channel hosts. I enjoy the challenge that such puzzles offer, and the satisfaction obtained by having overcome an obstacle and adding new methods of troubleshooting to my problem-solving toolbox.

While in high school, I visited a shop during a vacation trip that offered a variety of puzzles, one of which drew my attention because of its simplicity. It comprised a pair of glass balls in a chamber shaped like an extruded half of a circle separated by a plexiglass wall, with another plexiglass window on top to allow the solver to see inside. The end-goal of the puzzle was to get the balls to fall into small divots at opposite corners of the semicircular chamber near the top by the viewing window. Attempting to orient the puzzle to get each ball in place one at a time was impossible by design, as the first ball would roll back out while trying to shift the second ball into place. It took a minute or two to come up with a solution but being able to leave the store with the puzzle solved was rewarding.

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