Soma Cube

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Millennium Puzzles - Puzzles.COM SelectThe Soma Cube - one of the most outstanding puzzles of the 20th century. Seven different pieces - six made out of 4 cubes and one of 3 - can form a bigger 3x3x3 cube. There are 240 ways to assemble this cube, if not count rotations or mirror reflections. Moreover there are thousand of other shapes to be created from these seven pieces.

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Where to Start?
To get started with the Soma Cube puzzle the first challenge for your brain is... where to get the seven Soma pieces. One of the easiest ways is to buy them. We would recommend ThinkFun Block by Block® puzzle which is the exact Soma Cube remake. You can buy the puzzle here (see more details at the very bottom of this page).

In any case you can avoid buying the puzzle and produce your own Soma Cube set by yourself. For this you'll need 27 wooden or plastic cubes of the same size and glue. Use our image above to get together all the right combinations of the cubes and so get the seven Soma pieces.

Also, there is a number of nice resources on the Web which show some alternative and very clever - as we see them - ways how this can be done. Below are some of them.
Soma Cube of Strips
Soma Cube of Strips
A clever method by Sebastian Kirsch published at the Origami Interest Group. Download the PDF file to get a closer look at what is hidden behind this method.
Origami Soma Cube
Origami Soma Cube
An Origami model of the Soma Cube shown at Krystyna Burczyk's Origami site is based on The New Origami book by Steve and Megumi Biddle, and is built of the classic Sonobe module developed by Mitsonobu Sonobe.
LEGO Soma Cube
LEGO Soma Cube
Eric Harshbarger's model of the Soma Cube built out of LEGO bricks is shown at his LEGO Puzzles page. Several detailed pictures show you all you'll need to build the same pretty Soma set. Another LEGO Soma set was developed by Stefan Gustavson.
Piet Hein's Soma Cube
Thousands of Soma Shapes
Now that you have pieces by your side you are ready to jump into the solving. We recommend (to newcomers) to start with a 3x3x3 cube. Though we've said above there are 240 possible solutions it doesn't make this simple looking Soma shape easy to solve.

A 3x3x3 cube is a basic shape to start with. Also a huge number of 3D shapes that can be assembled of these cute seven pieces was developed. Usually, producers of the Soma Cube provide it with selections of different puzzle shapes. For example Binary Arts' Block by Block set includes 60 single cards with different shapes to arrange using the seven Soma Cube pieces.

There are a lot of shapes for the Soma Cube all over the Web. Mostly different sites dedicated to the Soma Cube have good selections of different Soma Cube shapes to assemble. The Thorleif's SOMA Page alone provides more than 2000 shapes.
Soma Cube Site
Some of the Best Soma Sites
The above mentioned Thorleif's SOMA Page is the most comprehensive site about the Soma Cube. There you'll find everything about this puzzle - its history and theories, several thousand figures and a solving program, newsletters and links. 

Soma Cube Central describes different activities with the Soma Cube in the classroom. As it's stated: "The overriding goal of this project is for the students to work in pairs or small groups to solve problems, communicate their results in writing and recording, and investigate characteristics of three-dimensional figures." 

Juergen Koeller's Soma Cube Page includes a lot of useful ideas including how to make the Soma Cube, and also some additional versions of this puzzle.

SomaSite has many unusual Soma designs, great ideas about the puzzle and its properties, and the Interactive Soma Machine to display your own designs online!
Virtual Soma Cube
What About Virtual Versions?
Also there are virtual versions of the Soma Cube on the Web. If you don't want to solve the physical puzzle try one of the best Java Soma Cube.
Piet Hein
The Man Who Invented Soma Cube
The ingenious Soma Cube was invented by the Danish poet, philosopher, mathematician and scientist Piet Hein (1905-1996). Piet Hein was a genius who was extremely creative in many different ways. Besides his Soma Cube, he discovered a new geometrical form called "the super-ellipse" and then developed its 3D version - "the super-ellipsoide" mostly called "the super egg." He developed a very popular strategy game for two players - Hex. One more of Piet Hein's super creations is "Grooks" - short philosophical, aphoristic poems well-known all over the World. It's said he wrote more than 10,000(!) Grooks; two of them we show below. Many more details about Piet Hein and his wonderful creations can be found at the Thorleif's SOMA Page - The Official History of SOMA.
Cover of Piet Hein's Collected Grooks I
Final Note
While you will complete Soma Cube shapes and some of them will look too hard, just remember two great Grooks written by Piet Hein:

Problems
Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.

The Road to Wisdom
The road to wisdom? -
Well, it's plain and simple to express:
Err
and err
and err again
but less
and less
and less.

Buy Block by Block®
Buy Block by Block®
Imagine building 60 different three-dimensional patterns with just seven puzzle pieces! Block by Block® helps players sharpen their visual perception and spatial thinking skills. An engaging learning game with a travel bag added by popular demand.

If you are interested in buying the real Block by Block® puzzle set, please visit ThinkFun Shop.
Last Updated: July 13, 2007  |  Posted: December 21, 2002
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