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Instant Insanity

Age 11 to 18 Challenge Level:

What seems like a very simple puzzle can have you tearing your hair out!

We have a set of four very innocent-looking cubes - each face coloured red, blue, green or white - and they have to be arranged in a row so that all of the four colours appear on the top, front, back and bottom of the line of cubes. (Alternatively, you could stack them.)

Here is a plan and the nets of the cubes so that you can make them yourself and solve the puzzle: (You can choose your own set of 4 colours if you wish.)

cube description
Cube 1
  B  
G W G
  R  
  B  
Cube 2
  G  
R W R
  R  
  B  
Cube 3
  B  
R W W
  R  
  G  
Cube 4
  G  
W W B
  R  
  G  

Pictorally, we have

Cube 1
cube 1
Cube 2
cube 2
Cube 3
cube 3
Cube 4
cube 4

In the following link you need to replace the colours we have used in our puzzle. Our RED becomes Yellow, BLUE becomes Green, GREEN becomes Red and WHITE becomes Blue.

In Ivars Peterson's MathTrek you'll find an explanation of this puzzle.