Puzzles… in… Space!

When you’re a puzzle enthusiast, you never know where your interest might take you, or what interesting and unexpected people you’ll encounter along the way. All sorts of folks enjoy puzzles, after all.

If you enjoy puzzles with trivia, you could bump into Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? winners or Jeopardy! champions like Ken Jennings. The New York Times has introduced us to several famous crossword enthusiasts. The British government is publishing puzzle books. Heck, actors Joel McHale and Neil Patrick Harris both included puzzles in their autobiographies!

Even astronauts are getting into the puzzly spirit!

Astronaut Tim Peake spent half a year in one of the most fascinating places in the solar system: the International Space Station. He was the first British astronaut to serve under the banner of the European Space Agency, and the first British astronaut to perform a spacewalk.

Upon returning to Earth, he turned his attention to more literary efforts, penning three books about space. The third, published last year in partnership with the European Space Agency, takes readers behind the scenes of the ESA screening process for astronauts.

Yes, puzzles are part of the screening process for the ESA.

Would you like to try your hand at solving some of them?

How did you do? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you

And if you’d like, you can find more of these puzzles in Peake’s delightful book The Astronaut Selection Test Book: Do You Have What it Takes for Space?

Do you have what it takes? I suspect that you do, fellow puzzler.

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A New Dimension of Puzzles

[A 3-D printed puzzle from Instructables.com.]

3-D printing is the next big technological leap forward, and although the technology is only a few years old, it’s already responsible for some amazing advances.

You may have seen the story in the news recently that NASA “emailed” a new wrench to the International Space Station. For the first time, plans originating on Earth were sent electronically to the ISS and built in a 3-D printer, giving an astronaut the specific tool he needed while saving literally thousands upon thousands of dollars. That’s mind-blowing.

Every day, new stories are emerging from the medical field about the benefits of 3-D printing. A close friend of mine recently had brain surgery, and they used a 3-D printer to manufacture a new piece of skull specifically for her. That is a phenomenal thing.

And puzzles aren’t immune to the march of progress. Enterprising designers are creating new puzzles with increasing complexity, allowing them to build on existing models and add previously impossible variations and details into their designs.

I’ve previously featured the specialized twenty-sided die created by the folks at 64 Oz. Games, which were made with 3-D printers and feature braille renderings beneath every number.

One of the fastest growing fields in 3-D printed puzzles is known colloquially as the twisty puzzle, the numerous variations, expansions, and extrapolations from the Rubik’s Cube twisting/turning style of puzzles.

Check out this article about George Miller and Oskar van Deventer, who are pushing the envelope of twisty puzzles with some ingenious designs.

Meticulously designed and realized through 3-D printing, these puzzles have set world records — one is a 17x17x17 Rubik’s Cube with over 1,500 parts! — and taken twisty puzzles to unexpected places.

As 3-D printers become more affordable and more puzzlers embrace the technology, there’s no telling where puzzles will go next. But I cannot wait to find out.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!