Invented by Danish mathematician Piet Hein in 1933, the Soma Cube is what’s known as a assembly puzzle, made up of 7 different shaped pieces that can be arranged into a cube. The name was derived from Adlous Huxley’s novel A Brave New World, in which the fictitious drug Soma was taken to keep people happy and reduce stress.
The Soma Cube has a seemingly endless amount of different ways that it can be solved, and it is for this reason that the puzzle became popular with mathematicians. Using complicated proofs, and later computer algorithms, they were able to determine that there are exactly 240 unique ways to solve it (not counting rotations and reflections).
The Cube has also been used in psychological experiments, most famously by Edward Deci. By asking subjects to solve the puzzle as many times as possible within a set amount of time, and by offering different incentives, he was able to compare whether internal motivations or external rewards (like money) led to better results. This research would go on to lay the groundwork for what is now known as Motivation Crowding Theory, which, as it relates to the world of puzzles, shows that solving a puzzle for your own personal gain can be more gratifying and motivational than money.
The Brain Shoppe is happy to offer this iconic puzzle made from beautiful Raintree wood right here in the USA. Whether you need something fun for your home coffee table, a waiting room at the office, or for the inquisitive kid in your life, the Soma Cube is sure to deliver, and although there are many ways to solve it, you may struggle to find just one!