30-Part Puzzle

George W. Hart

Other Puzzles

This puzzle is composed of thirty identical components, which assemble and interlock. It is extremely difficult to assemble. Each part is a kind of two-headed snake. The above version is made of laser-cut foam, and is surprisingly coherent. You can throw it up in the air and catch it with no fear of it disassembling. Its colors are random, fifteen of one color and fifteen of another, with no pattern to the color arrangement.

My initial paper model of the form is shown below. The paper is floppy, so I taped the parts together, but the other versions on this page hold together just by the geometry of the nearly rigid parts.

Below is an elegant version made of black acrylic plastic, 9 cm in diameter.  It is pretty, but acrylic is brittle and I broke a head off that you can see at the lleft. (Don't worry, I'll glue it back on.)

Here is a version made of blue vikureen plastic, which is less brittle, so safe to repeatedly assemble and disassemble:

And finally, for a sense of scale, here's a self-portrait with the foam version:

Thank you George Miller, who did the laser cutting of these.