21 Dec 2018

The Mystery of cube-shaped poop

I know this blog is supposed to be written as a puzzle blog. I should write about a topic that is related to puzzles, but I cannot ignore this unique topic. Before I start writing, I will tell you that this topic may not be suitable for people who are about to eat a meal. The reason is, as you already know seeing the title, it's about wombat droppings.

All right. I warned you enough, so if you feel awful while you are eating your meal, I'm not going to accept any complaints, O.K?

I have read an article about wombats. It's on the National Geographic website. The surprising thing is that wombats are the only animals in the world that produce cube-like shaped scat. This article intrigued my curiosity. It's like a biological puzzle.

There is one postulation that is common which is cube-shaped scat cannot be rollable and can be put around the territory to mark its territory to other wombats.

This postulation describes the purpose of using cube-shaped poop, it's not how it is made. I'm interested in how it can be cube-shaped. I thought it's strange that a cube which is about 2 cm size exists in nature. There must be a reason.

The first thing that popped into my head is a process of making macaroni. There are different shapes of macaroni extruders and depending on the extruder attachment, the shape of macaroni would be very different.

Patricia Yang, a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says that at first she thought that they have square anuses. However, the samples of intestines of two roadkill wombats showed the expectation was wrong. The pig intestine is a relatively uniform elasticity, but the wombat intestine is a much more irregular shape. She thinks that two distinct ravine-like grooves in the wombats' intestine help make cube-shaped poop.
Hmm, the wombat mystery is getting more interesting.

Mike Swinbourne, from the University of Adelaide, says that the shape of wombat poop is more likely related to the dry environment.
Bill Zeigler, Brookfield Zoo and Peter Clements, the president of the organization of Wombats SA, have the same opinion that two elements, intestine and moisture, might be the reasons.

What I thought strange was "two distinct ravine-like grooves of a wombats' intestine." I wonder why there are two grooves, not four? I couldn't find the picture of two grooves. I wonder if two grooves are spiral or straight?

I think it's rare to see something shaped like a polyhedron in nature. I know bacteriophages have a dodecahedron head or there are rocks that are shaped like a hexagon. I don't think those are strange but wombats!

Can you guess how it's made?
This must be a new type of puzzle challenge from wombats!

photo credit: tomosuke214 ウォンバットの「チューバッカ」@多摩動物公園 via photopin (license) photo credit: Andrew C Wallace upwind via photopin (license)

3 Dec 2018

Kazu Harada, Automata Creator in San Francisco

The world advances towards the development of cutting-edge technology every day. Technological development is remarkable and makes our life convenient. I'm interested in the state-of-the-art technology, it gives me dreams of what I had thought might be impossible would be possible.
Having said that, I like low technology, like automata and cannot run away from the fascination of automata.

As I have introduced him on this blog before, there is an automata creator named Kazuaki Harada (aka Kazu Harada) who has a worldwide reputation.

I have heard that he is going to join the program, "Curious Contraptions, Inside the Fairy Tale Factory" at Exploratorium at Pier 15, San Francisco. This has already started from 8th November until 20th January 2019 and he will join from 3rd December to 15th December 2018. There will be three days off (Fri.7th, Sat. 8th and Fri. 14th) for him during the period. If you would like to meet him, please avoid these days.

Exploratorium "Curious contraptions"

While he is at Exploratorium, one of the events "After Dark" will be held whose theme is "Glow" and he will join the event too. I heard that he is going to make automaton by using something that glows, but he hasn't decided the details yet, so it's going to be a surprise!

After Dark: Glow
Thursday, December 6, 2018  6:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Honestly, I have never seen his creations with my own eyes because he lives in Japan and I live in Australia. However, I know his creations are awesome through the internet.

The Nobel Prize Organization seems one which is fascinated with his creations and recognized his talent too. Well, of course, he was not nominated for a Nobel Prize. He has taken on a request from the Nobel Prize Organization and made two automata that are related to two novels; The Wonderful Adventures of Nils and The Bluest Eye.
Those two creations are going to be at the event which is related to the Nobel Prize in Literature that will be held in UAE in February 2019.

In March 2019, he is going to attend World Wood Day in Austria. He attended the same event this year that was held in Nepal. I found a YouTube promotion video of World Wood Day where Kazu and his wife wearing funny glasses are on the video.

His activity is spectacular, but there is more. I heard that there is a plan to publish his book. Isn't it wonderful? I'm anticipating more activities from him in 2019.

What? Oh, yes, my automata plan. Well, yes of course, as I have written I will make the second automaton next year. I promise.
Kazu is a man of the world creator and I'm a woman of my word creator.

Kazuaki Harada: https://twitter.com/kazu_automatist
Kazuaki Harada Tiwtter: https://twitter.com/nizosha
Exploratorium Twitter: https://twitter.com/exploratorium

26 Nov 2018

Finally solved "Half Cut"

I finally solved "Half Cut!" Yes, I did!
As I have written on my blog on 1st August 2018, I've got "Half Cut" which was made by Václav Obšívac, designed by Laszlo Molnar. 

This puzzle has 6 pieces, yes 6 pieces only and the target is to fit the six pieces into the wooden box without any protrusions. Don't you think it looks easy? If you think so, just try it.

You see, there are triangular prisms and those angles and positions are at crabbed angles and locations. I don't remember how many times I have thought that if this prism was not here, or there, or if this prism was not at this angle and if it was a position rotated 90 degrees, this puzzle should have been easier.

Well, I know it took a very long time to solve. I'm even surprised with myself.
I think I got this puzzle at the end of July or 1st of August. So, it took about three months and a half. When I got this puzzle, it was still winter, and it's early summer now. I wonder what I had I been doing?

My friends who are not interested in puzzles would say "I can't solve this puzzle!" just 10 minutes after they've started a puzzle.
So, if they knew how many days I have spent on solving the puzzle, they would think I'm crazy. Yes, maybe I am.

I haven't played with this puzzle every day, maybe two days a week, ten or fifteen minutes at a time. I had been keeping this puzzle on the coffee table in the living room and playing with it while television commercials were being broadcast.

The day I solved it was the same. I sat down in the living room and when the television commercials started, I started playing with it and it suddenly solved. I was amazed at the puzzle that would fit in the wooden box perfectly. "Really! Is it really happening?"

Thank you for the craftsman, Václav Obšívac and the designer, Laszlo Molnar. I could have a fun time with "Half Cut" and thanks for the television commercials too, if they were not being broadcast at that time, probably I would be still struggling with "Half Cut."


1 Nov 2018

My Mini-Puzzle Mini Collection

I love miniatures. I have made 1/6 scale bags, 1/12 scale breads with clay, 1/6 and 1/12 scales miniature furniture and small puzzles.

Only puzzles couldn't adjust to 1/6 or 1/12 scales because of material conditions. It depends on the kind of timber, some of them can be torn out or cracked easily and they are not good for a miniature. I wanted small puzzles that can be played, I didn't like miniature puzzles that are only for displaying. Therefore, what I could make were bigger than what are usually called miniatures.

I have reviewed how many mini-puzzles I have made and realized that they were lots more than I thought. There are some puzzles that were sold by Juno himself or one Japanese company, and there are puzzles that have never sold.

These are the mini-puzzles I have made. All puzzles were designed by Junichi Yananose (aka Juno).

Sometimes we (Pluredro) are asked from customers whether we re-produce puzzles that were already sold out. Juno has lots of ideas of puzzles in his head and he wants to make more unique puzzles. So, I feel sorry, but we don't produce the same puzzles again. Therefore, our puzzles are all limited editions.

However, I might make same puzzles as a miniature again. For example, 6 Board Burr #2 and H Burr were sold long ago. The reason I have made those puzzles are I didn't have them. If I have a chance, I will continue to make mini-puzzles that I haven't made before.

Just now, Pluredro is holding an eBay puzzle auction and there are three kinds of puzzles, in total four mini-puzzles that I have made and one ordinary sized second grade puzzle.

Pluredro eBay Puzzle Auction: 

If you are interested in them, please take a look!
It will be ended on 4th November, Sunday in South-East Queensland, Australia time.

Happy mini-puzzling!

29 Oct 2018

Puzzle T-16

What kind of puzzles do you like?
I like three-dimensional puzzles, but sometimes I feel like challenging flat puzzles, like pentominoes.

I used to play with pentominoes when I was small, and honestly, I got tired of it a little. So, I had been looking for something else. Then, a good opportunity came. Juno gave me some timber that couldn't be used for normal sized puzzles.

It was the time for making mini-puzzles!

I wanted to make something that had not ever been made. What I decided to make was T-16 designed by Juno in 1990. As you can guess from the name, T-16 has 16 T shaped pieces and each piece has a different length. Here is a picture of T-16's pieces. You see, there are odd shaped T pieces.

At first, I was going to make flat pieces, but Juno said that T-16 can be played for two level packing. If so, it seems to be a nice idea to have a box for packing T-16. I thought that I could make it because I have made a flat box for the puzzle "Holey Rectangle" before.
However, it was difficult to make a box with no gaps.
Just in case I made mistakes, I made five boxes for four pairs of T-16s. The results were, luckily, I could make five boxes well.

Well, what I mean "well" is based on my standard, you know? These are boxes I made. I think they are not bad. What do you think?

The boxes I made are for the packing of 8 x 8 for the lower level and 6 x 6 for the upper level. This is a little awkward shaped isn't it? I haven't played with it yet, but I'm sure it's not as easy as it looks.

What? Why did I make four pairs of T16?
One day you'll understand.