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Maths & Puzzle Solving
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“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
- Calvin Coolidge

A Word on Math and Perception Puzzles

  The word mathematics is related to Greek manthanein 'learn'. There is a significant analogy with the Chinese characters for mathematics 數學 (shùxué), in fact the sinogram 學 also means 'learn'. On the other hand, the word puzzle is curiously related to 'question'. Learn and question are the two key elements to approach the world of mathematics. As you make your way through mathematics, you discover that the most efficient method to find a solution to a problem is to focus on the right question.

  By means of geometry and a lever, Archimedes said he could lift the Earth (impossible!). More reasonably, Eratosthenes made a surprisingly accurate measurement of the circumference of the Earth, using simple geometric formulas and a stick! This site intends to show that mathematics can also be fun because it is visual creativity. Accordingly, we have endeavored to make an "intuitive" puzzle site with fewer formulas and more visuals, which we hope will encourage students and those curious to learn more about this science or simply constitute a platform for reflection. What specially interests us is to communicate ideas about the development and stimulation of thinking. To study the common misdirections that can mislead our cognitive processes. To detect the mental blocks which prevent us from finding a solution to a problem. To examine the links between imagination, creativity and logical reasoning. We have found that optical illusions, puzzles and brainteasers combine all those fields of interest amazingly well!

  What are the origin of puzzles and mathematical games? Their origin is concealed in the innermost depths of our brain. In fact, sometimes man appears to let himself go into an abstracted ‘diversion’ that involves assembling or arranging pieces, counters or any small familiar object into patterns. This compulsive behavior seems to be evidence of a natural and irrepressible geometrical sense. It may be linked to the behavior that instinctively drives some birds to collect and group shells, glittering or colored objects. Assembling a puzzle may not be only an intellectual activity, but also a primitive geometric urge. Puzzles, riddles and mathematical recreations actually may share a common origin. The ‘Rhind Papyrus’ (dated circa 1650 BCE) showed that early Egyptian mathematics was largely based on puzzle type problems. For instance, the papyrus contained the following puzzle “Seven houses contain seven cats. Each cat kills seven mice. Each mouse had eaten seven ears of grain. Each ear of grain would have produced seven hekats of wheat. What is the total of all of these?”

  Puzzles are not closed problems; they can always be modified or improved to generate a myriad of variants. What's more, they don't require batteries; they are just powered by our own brain cells! To solve the perplexing and tricky puzzles you will find in our site, you will need a very high IQ -- not the usual and controversial 'Intelligence Quotient', but Inveniens Quaerendo (“Trial and Error”, your capacity for learning by attempting). Intelligence is not what you FEEL or what you KNOW, but a PROBLEM SOLVING SKILL. Everyone can acquire or develop problem-solving skills simply by training themselves at their own pace and relying on their existing knowledge. In the world of the mind, the race goes not always to the swift, but to those who keep running. Even if the beginning may be discouraging, things will get better and better just by planning regular puzzle training sessions.

  To conclude, remember: "intelligence begins with a piece of paper, a pencil and... a problem to solve!". The ancient Greeks used to say: Αρχη 'ημισυ παντος ("Archê hêmisy pantos", starting on a job is half the job done)... Now it is time to lean your brain forward and start thinking!

       arrow Puzzle etymology   arrow Tips for solving puzzles



Source: Puzzillusions, © Sarcone & Waeber, Archimedes-lab.org, and Carlton Publishing.
 

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