What is a Soma Cube?

The Story of the Soma Cube

The Soma Cube is a 3x3x3 dissection puzzle, which has been split into 7 entirely unique pieces, made of 27 cubes. The object of the puzzle is to organize these pieces into a solid cube. The number of cubes in each piece can’t exceed 4, and each piece has to be irregular, with a nook or turn. 

There are a total of 240 possible distinct solutions excluding rotations. The pieces can also be manipulated into a multitude of other shapes including a castle, a serpent and a chair. If you are looking for a Soma Cube solution video click here.

The Soma Cube, a precursor the Rubik cube, is famous for its use in psychological and intellectual experiments. A University of Rochester Psychologist, Dr Deci, used the Soma Cube to show dedication of volunteer workers versus paid workers in a given task. You can read about this interesting psychological experiment here.

Ability in completing Soma Cube puzzles in tests gives remarkably accurate insight into ones intelligence. The speed and accuracy at which one can complete a Soma Cube correlates greatly with ones IQ. However, it has been found that intellectual outliers and black swans with MENSA level IQ,  tended to struggle – a pinch of imagination and a dollop spatial awareness is required to complete the Soma Cube.

Piet Hein, the creator of the puzzle, took the name from Aldous Huxley’s seminal work “A Brave New World” – where Soma is an addictive drug taken by the inhabitants of the “the establishment”, when they are neither working nor busy. Today the Soma Cube is known as an addictive puzzle used as distractions when someone should be working or busy.

Hein, came up with the idea for the puzzle, while preparing for a lecture. Indeed, he imagined the puzzle up in its 7 parts and wondered if it would make a cube; instead of starting with a cube and cutting it up.

“It is a beautiful humor of the nature, that the 7 simplest irregular combinations of cubes, can be recombined to the cube again. The multitudes of unity is again producing the unity. This is the world’s smallest philosophic system, and that surely must be an advantage.” – Piet Hein

Although Piet Hein invented the Soma, it only become a commercial success after being distributed by the Parker Bros, in 1969. The puzzle was sold with a booklet inside, which displayed 36 standard figures and solutions to be made – however only 33 were actually possible. The famous “W-Wall” is sadly – completely and entirely impossible – although we recommend you give it a try. The complete list of possible solutions is available here.

If you are looking to purchase one of SiamMandalays Soma cubes, please click on the images below.

Sean Allan
November 14, 2014 by Sean Allan
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