6 Jun 2021

Dear Mr Christopher Nolan

I use Netflix for both reasons, practicing English and entertainment. For the purpose of practicing English, Netflix is a useful tool. However, from the entertainment purpose, I have finished watching my favorite types of movies.

My favorite type of movie is like Christopher Nolan's. I am a big fan of him. I have never been anyone's fan before, but he is special. It is because his movies contain the factors I love. Unfortunately, it is not easy to find this kind of movie. If he could make a movie with puzzle factors like "Inception", I would be incredibly happy. So, I have decided to write a letter to Mr Christopher Nolan. I know it is almost a zero possibility that he will notice my writing, but I am writing this letter hoping he will notice someday.

Dear Mr Christopher Nolan,

Since I have seen your movie, I am your big fan.
I am a puzzle lover and there are lots of factors that I love in your movies: science, space-time, Escher, mystery, dimension, space, and complexity in a good way. Those factors make the movies more exciting.

There are people who love puzzles in the world. They are unfortunately a minority group compared with other hobbies, but they have good features. They love magic, juggling, tricks and the factors I have written above. The peculiarity of puzzle lovers is full of wit and the ability to think ideas that other people never think of.

Even though the number of puzzle lovers are a minority, I believe that those factors will intrigue most people. Unfortunately, there are not many movies that have the factors. As a puzzle lover and one of your fans, I wish with all my heart that we will be enjoying a movie that you made with lots of puzzle sense someday.

Best regards,


25 May 2021

Trial and Error

I'm very happy with the latest automaton, "Flower Automaton" that I made last month. So, I got carried away and decided to make the next one.

Through trial and error, I got an idea of a fish automaton. It seemed like a good idea (I thought) when the idea first popped in my mind, yet as I considered it carefully, there were some issues. Even if I could make it, I don't think it would be that interesting. So, I put it aside and restarted thinking of a different design again. Things like this happen quite often. An idea that came up in my mind seems brilliant at first, then it gradually lost its glare.

An idea is crucial. Think, think! I mumbled to myself.
I tend to do something stupid while I'm thinking about these kinds of things, so I must be careful.

I remember when I was in Japan, I was a loyal reader of a monthly science magazine "Kagaku Asahi." There was a puzzle on the back cover, and I loved it. One rainy day I was thinking how to solve the puzzle in the magazine and headed to a subway station in Tokyo. Then I noticed that I was holding an umbrella left open at the entrance of the subway where there was an underground. The other passengers might have thought that I was a crazy person.

Unfortunately, I feel like I don't have as much ability to concentrate that I had before. If I think positively, I don't have to worry about holding an umbrella left open in a subway station or hit my forehead into an electric pole which is good. Luckily, I live in a remote area in Australia not in Tokyo. Even if I did something really stupid, people rarely notice, only birds and kangaroos. 

One day, I was watching YouTube looking for hints. Then, I found several videos of kinetic sculptures. There were two guys I found who make wooden kinetic sculptures, David C. Roy and Robert Hains. Surprisingly, one of them lives in Queensland, Australia. Their sculptures are so beautiful. Here are their works. 

Calligraphy kinetic sculpture by David C. Roy


Tip Turkey - Robert Hains

I admired their kinetic sculptures, and of course, I felt like making my own. Even though I haven't started making it, I have already imagined where I should hang the kinetic sculpture and looked for an empty wall. Yes, I know. I'm a bit impatient.
Come to think of what I have made, there is a little similar one, Moire Gears. It also used the moire effect. It seems difficult to make a kinetic sculpture, but I think I can do it if I spend a lot of time. 

When my first kinetic sculpture is finished, I will show you it someday here.

21 Apr 2021

The Flower Automaton

Hello, puzzle and automaton lovers! It has been a long time since I updated the last blog post. I had been struggling with an automaton.

In November last year, one idea of a flower shaped automaton popped up in my mind. It was a flower facing upward. I thought it would be good, however, when I searched the key words, "automata" and "flower" on YouTube, I found some flower automata that bloom upwards. If I could, I wanted to avoid making something similar to others. Therefore, I have decided to make a flower automaton that blooms horizontally.

Then, I started thinking of the structures of the automaton. I realized that a vertical bloom automaton could use gravity to open petals which is convenient. On the other hand, an automaton that blooms horizontally can be obstructed with gravity. It depends on structures, the upper petal would easily face down by gravity.

Hmm, it seems a bit awkward.

If it is alright having big linkage structures behind the flower, I thought it would not be difficult to make. I tried to imagine how it would look. No, no. It makes no sense if the structure is more conspicuous than the flower.

In the meantime, November was over. December passed very quickly having no good ideas. Then, January and February passed wastefully, and I was getting a bit anxious. I thought that I might have not been able to come up with any good ideas. When I was almost giving up, I picked up a book, "507 Mechanical Movements" and finally got an idea. The book gave me a hint! 

After many trials and errors, also having kind help of woodworking by Juno, I finally finished making the flower automaton yesterday.

Here it is, this is my flower automaton.

I named it "Columbine" because it happened to look like a Columbine flower. This is a double flower, and it caused many mistakes while I was making it. I guess that it would be much easier if I made a single flower. 

The petals are made from PNG Rosewood. Probably, you may notice that I used the rest of the timber that was used for the sequential discovery puzzle, "SDBB Master." The stem and the calyx are made from plywood that I bought at a hardware shop, the base is made from the off cut of American Black Walnut which has been used for Coin Case, Juno's Arrow, SDBB Master and so on. 

Before I started making this automaton, I had made a prototype. This prototype faces upward. The feature of this flower automaton is moving any angles. It moves regardless of the force of gravity. I am happy with the idea. Having said that, if I make another one, I will change some parts of the design because I have found some improvements. Sometimes you cannot tell shortcomings just by making it once, you know?


This automaton was 7th creation of mine including prototypes. The first one had quite a simple structure, it had only two cams. It is deeply moving to see the improvement and complexity of the design from only two cams automaton to the latest one.

I already have a next new idea for automaton. I will show you my next automaton someday on this blog.
See you then!


20 Nov 2020

A Mathematician and Performer, Yosuke Ikeda

Time flies like SpaceX, it is already mid-November. At least five automata were supposed to be done in the plan this year, but I have made only two and I have been racking my brains and thinking of a new linkage system. On such an occasion, one interesting video that was tweeted caught my eye. It was "Stone Circle Mystery" by Yosuke Ikeda.

Yosuke Ikeda
It is not exactly an automaton, it is not a puzzle, and even more, it is not magic, yet it has fun elements related to puzzles with a mathematics' flavour. I thought puzzle lovers would love his creations.

Yosuke Ikeda is also famous as a performer. He has lots of performing experiences overseas, including Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Taiwan, and so on. This is one of his popular performances, "Hello Goodbye" which made him well known.

Firstly, I assumed that he is a designer and a street performer, and I was surprised to know that he is a mathematics teacher at a prep school and the author of math books too. As the saying goes, God does not give two gifts to one person, but it seems like there is an exception.

The creations that such a talented guy has come up with are amazing. Probably, it is because I like gears, but this video,"Marble Machine "Penrose Stairs"" is fantastic. Especially, I like the three cubes that rotate. I cannot understand why it got only 126 clicks on the "Like" icon as of today.

The latest project he is carrying is AlgoLoop. It looks like a small propeller or fan. He has put it on KICKSTARTER and is raising money toward production. There is a page that is written about the details of AlgoLoop on KICKSTARTER together with "Risks and challenges" written by Yosuke.

Most visitors to this blog are puzzle lovers. So, in the end, I will introduce his puzzle, "Square Puzzle." Yosuke says that this is a new variation of the Missing square puzzle. Since it has been well received, he is thinking of merchandising.

I have pasted several links of Yosuke below.
His website has explanations about his creations and performance in both English and Japanese, so I do not think I need to write a lot here. Please visit his website and his YouTube pages, you will find more fun there.
Yosuke Ikeda Are you looking for something different? THIS IS IT

Yosuke Ikeda Twitter : https://twitter.com/ikeikey

Facebook IDEA IKEDA : https://www.facebook.com/IDEAIkeda

YouTube IDEA Ikeda

12 Oct 2020

Akio Hizume, an architect of mathematics

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Roger Penrose. I believe that most puzzle lovers like, for example, the Penrose triangle. If you love what Roger Penrose has accomplished, I am very sure that you may be interested in a guy who designed lots of mathematical things. His name is Akio Hizume.

If you had attended the International Puzzle Party 30 (IPP Osaka + Hakone 2010) you might have met Akio. He was one of the lecturers in Osaka and held a workshop on "Pleiades." Pleiades had been displayed in various places. Here is one of the huge Pleiades hanging from the ceiling of a church in Switzerland. Unfortunately, it is not there now. 

Two pictures below were taken at Marunouchi Building which is in front of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo. It looks like a Christmas tree. The star is Pleiades and the Christmas tree part is Fibonacci Tower which is also designed by Akio.

Fibonacci Tower

There is one interesting story. Akio put a bulb inside Pleiades and threw it from the 6th floor of the building (Depending on the countries, it would be the 5th floor due to there being no ground floor in Japan). The ground he threw on was covered by concrete, yet Pleiades and even the bulb did not break. Isn't it amazing?
According to Akio's guessing, the Pleiades itself became like feathers and worked as a parachute, falling at a constant speed, and cushioning the bulb to protect it.

He has designed so many things, so I present here Akio's other works. This is Sunflower Tower, 8 m high (26.25 ft). It is constructed with 150 bamboo stalks woven into a double spiral. 
Sunflower Tower

He attended the 9th Gathering for Martin Gardner (G4G9) and made Mumagari 600 and it was also displayed at the local library lobby in Atlanta, U.S.A.
Mumagari 600

Akio occasionally gave lectures at Musashino Art University in Tokyo and these pictures show what he had made there.

He is an architect, therefore, of course, has designed some buildings. Those small models are tea houses that he designed.

Akio designed an architectural prototype based on the plant's phyllotaxis spiral. This is my personal opinion, but some of his architectural models seem to have a similar concept as Islamic architectural design. What I mean is those designs have mathematical beauty.

In the last, I introduce the Fibonacci Turbine.

The paper of Origami Fibonacci Turbine

This time, my blog became longer because Akio has so many original designs. I reckon his keen insight into form and mathematical sense will lead him to create even more original designs in the future.

Like he attended the IPP30 as a lecturer, he has been attending many events worldwide. If you have any questions or would like to ask him to make something his originals, please contact him directly.

Akio Hizume

Inquiry: akio@starcage.org

Akio's website "Star Cage" : http://starcage.org/englishindex.html

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/starcage