Sunday 7 March 2021

Packing Pies Positively Peaks My Performance

Pie Box by Haym Hirsch
A few weeks ago, I saw with some amazement that a very talented Facebook friend of mine, Haym Hirsh, had teamed up with a craftsman to have some of his puzzle designs made. They looked fun and mathematically based so I decided that I should give them a try. I was not surprised to see mathematical puzzles from him seeing as he works at Cornell University having studied Maths and Computer Science. I love mathematical stuff and even attempted to study for a Master of maths degree with the Open University based here in the UK (unfortunately after my first few years as a consultant I got much too busy to study in my spare time and had to set it aside but do maintain a more than passing interest). Haym had teamed up with Fin of NothingYetDesigns (primarily based on Etsy but also now setting up his own webstore). The advantage for us in the UK with using Etsy is that they automatically add the VAT and hence cut out any nasty surprises and delays on arrival of my toys in the country.

I chose a bunch of designs and Fin said that when the other was back in stock, then he'd let me know. I was ever so slightly horrified to see how the USPS tracks the packages. I watched my first batch of 4 go across the US and then saw an attempted but failed deliver in Florida. In a panic I checked my delivery address and it definitely said the United Kingdom on it. The following day, I was even more horrified to see that they had tried again and actually successfully delivered the package in Florida and my tracking was showing as delivered. I quickly checked my front door and it definitely wasn't there. After a reassuring contact with Fin, it would appear that the USPS consider delivery to the airport as delivered. About 4 days later I received my pack of puzzles.

They are all really nicely packed up - it looks very like he either makes his own sealable bags or they are available in every possible size combination:

Every puzzle arrived in its' own sealed envelope of exactly the correct size
The only thing I did need to be careful of was that the very robust black rubber bands did not get eaten by my cats! They absolutely adore chewing on rubber bands and then eat them. It is really unpleasant when they get to the other end with "stuff" hanging out! Mrs S gave me a very stern warning about the rubber bands and in fear I kept them safe whilst taking my photo.

I started with the Pie Box at the top of the post and attempted to put all 8 segments of pie (that fit so nicely in the circular cutout on the right) into the slightly smaller square on the left. I thought that this would be a trivial matter of moving the segments so that they form straighter lines i.e. alternate directions to approximate a square shape. Well that didn't work! I should have known that Haym would be more sneaky than that. The search was on. I really don't enjoy puzzles that seem to have a huge amount of random trial and error and it initially did seem that this was the case here. However, I quickly realised that I needed to investigate ways to get these pieces packed with as little wasted space as possible. Definitely not trivial but after an hour of thinking© I had a nice little Aha! moment. No! I am not going to show the solution - go and buy it and work it out for yourself.

After having some pie, you always want More Pie
Time for More Pie. We start with a pie cut into 7 equal slices and an eighth waiting to be put in the box. There looks like plenty of room but believe me, there really isn't. Again, I tried the same technique as I did with the first puzzle and of course that didn't work. Here we go again - time for another brain workout. This was oddly even more difficult and took me quite some time to find the solution. Very satisfying and quite a lot of puzzling for such a cheap puzzle.

I was on a roll - packing pies had helped my brain power! Time for another one - I was particularly interested in this as it looked really quite logical - Eloquint:

Eloquint - 5 L's to be placed in the space
It looks like there is not enough space in the puzzle for them all but the packing space continues under the lip of the top plate. Each L is 3x3 units and the space for them to be fitted into is 6x5 units so there is plenty of space for them to be placed but getting them in proves to be a bit of a challenge! This puzzle is like a 2D version of the wonderful 3D designs of Osanori Yamamoto and Alexander Magyarics. Finding the position is one thing, then the challenge is to actually get it into the frame. It only took me about ½ an hour but had a very nice Aha! moment.

This is fabulous - I cannot fail! Time for:

Stubborn Twelfth
A nice big square with 11 asymmetric pentagons inside. There looks like plenty of space for that twelfth. I am afraid that this is where my luck ran out! I have spent a good few hours fiddling with this and am getting absolutely nowhere with it. So I moved on to the other one that had to wait until he made some more:

This one consists of a circular space covered by a clear perspex/acrylic lid which can rotate freely. The 6 Trapezoid shaped pieces can fit under the lid through a segment removed from it. Just finding a shape that fits in the circle was fun and a bit of a challenge but it has so far proven totally impossible to fit them in via the small hole!

It may be that my 2D packing puzzle prowess is limited to pies and "ells"? I have been working on the Legal packing puzzle on and off for 6 months and have got no closer with that either - triangles and quadrilaterals are obviously impossible for me!

I have put them away for a while because I have run out of ideas and I have been distracted by some new toys that have arrived from Jakub. I will need to come back to these later. I always assume that if I keep returning to a puzzle then I will get there eventually. Some puzzles have taken me years! Some puzzles still remain unsolved after year but then I will keep trying.

Take care everyone - most of the world is improving slowly (although the rates in many parts of the USA remain stubbornly high). Keep paying attention to the rules, get vaccinated when it's your turn and we will eventually get back to normal.

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