Origami Soma Cube

Origami Soma Cube


Hi everyone! Here’s something you can make. This is a puzzle cube made from post-it notes. It’s actually called a Soma cube. It’s quite famous amongst mathematicians. It’s made from seven pieces–a bit like Tetris pieces, and they fit together to make a cube. There are actually 240 solutions to the Soma cube, and yeah, you can make these yourself. So this origami Soma cube, I did make from post-it notes, and you actually need 122 post-it notes to make this, and you fold them into these things. These are called Sonobe units, and then these fit together to make cube shapes, which are perfect for these puzzle pieces. If you don’t know already, I’ll link to a separate video which explains how to make these Sonobe units. But first, let’s have a look at the shape of each piece. The first two pieces are the V piece and the L piece, named for obvious reasons. The V piece is made from 14 Sonobe units, while the L piece, and all other puzzle pieces, are made from 18 Sonobe units each. The next two pieces are the Zed piece and the T piece. When you’re making these puzzle pieces, have a look at where the inside edges are, and where the outside edges are. The next two pieces are mirror images, so we’ll call them A and B–and notice, we have now gone three dimensional. And the final and seventh piece is the pyramid piece, so we’ll call this P for pyramid. Those are all the pieces, and if you make them correctly, they will fit together to make a Soma cube. So this is quite a challenge. It took me eight hours to complete my first cube. To begin with, I wasn’t that good at it. An estate agent would probably describe it as having a “rustic charm.” But I did get better at it as I went along. So then I decided to make a second Soma cube with origami paper, and this came out a little bit neater. It fits together a bit better. But it is quite an achievement if you can make one. It is something that you can display. I should say “Thank you” to my mathematical friend Allison Kiddle, who taught me how to do this, so thank you, Allison! And you can follow her on Twitter. I hope you try it. Good luck with it! And if you have been, thanks for watching.

91 thoughts on “Origami Soma Cube

  1. If you think this is fun, look up the board game(?) Quadefy – you're building a 4×4 cube instead, except you and your opponent each have half the pieces, and the goal is to build the cube in such a way that you prevent your opponent from being able to place another piece. It's a ton of fun!

  2. * How many will I need for the cube puzzle?
    * Is fitting the cubes together to build one of the "letters" straight forward or do we need another video for that?

  3. Fun! More post-it note folding to go with my post-it note dodecahedron. This looks much more challenging, but anything using colorful office supplies is a win in my book.

  4. Hi singingbanana, please could you do a video solving a mathematical olympiad problem that you find interesting? I really don't know how to solve them neither know if it really is that difficult or just thinking very very smart.

  5. On the 28th of October there is a triangle number for every number in the date. Won't happen again for over half a century

  6. You should check out Rubik's bricks! Which make a cube! But not a Rubik's cube!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysDT8tRlkPE

  7. One of my colleague had a Soma Cube on his desk, when I've seen it in pieces, he told me that was a gift from a former colleague and he left it in this way to see if people know this cube and how to assemble it. Well, he was surprise that I was able to do it in less than 30 secondes. Thanks to you, now I know how to build my own. I may build one out of dice and glue, could be fun !

  8. If you like modular origami and want to make big towers and stuff… Here's a good thing to make(Bluebeard's castle) http://zenorig.blogspot.co.nz/2012/10/how-to-make-bluebeard-castle-ed.html

  9. I love origami! Never expected to see it on this channel, although one of the main reasons I enjoy it is the stereometric aspect. You can make some amazing polyhedrons from those Shinobi modules. Great to see it shown!

  10. Well, now I built one of these this afternoon. Took something like 8 hours with some pauses in between. Turns out really nice, although I have only gotten white post-its. Thanks for the video.

  11. If you are interested in mathematical origami, check out my avatar here. An Icosahedron, in 5 colours. Each face has 3 colours, each vertex has all 5, the order of the colours around any one vertex is repeated only once on the opposite vertex, similarly the combination of colours on any face is repeated only once on the opposing face. The pattern is chiral. And if you assemble the pieces "inside out" it gives an entirely different visual, with diamonds along the edges forming interlocking stars at the vertexes.

  12. When I watch your videos I wish I would have paid more attention in math classes when I was in Grammar school. Instead I became master in Classical Philology which is not bad either I guess.

  13. Wait. I just finished building the pieces and found a solution in about 2 minutes. Now, I've always been pretty good at this kind of puzzle, but…

    I don't know how to say it in a polite way, are you sure it took you 8 hours to find one? (EDIT: were you including the crafting time in it?) What was your modus operandi? Mine is mashing the pieces together and letting my intuition do its thing.
    So, I always feel like everything is up to luck, because you're bound to find a solution sooner or later, and surely your intuition can help, but you could find a viable combination right away like me or it could take you hours.

    Any thoughts?

    (Edit 2: I did a quick research and I found someone say that the expected time to find the first solution to the soma cube is 15 minutes, so I guess you were including the crafting time in the 8 hours after all)

  14. Wikipedia says it was invented during a 1936 lecture by Werner Heisenberg by someone in the audience. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soma_cube?wprov=sfsi1

    What's not clear is whether the lecture played a role as indirect inspiration or the invention was relief from the tedium.

  15. I didn't hear your effort estimate when I watched this last night. I started my cube straight after watching the video. I'm currently 3/7 of the way though. Very enjoyable but, man, does this take some effort. Thanks for the video. Fun, as always.

  16. Done, now I am trying to do a 4x4x4 Cube. I have already 4 of 13 cube pieces. I think it will work. I love origami the most, when you can do something with it.

  17. From mathematical point of view, how can we calculate the possible ways to arrange the pieces into the cube? And of course the number of ways to arrange them improperly?

  18. so I made the soma cube. are there any solutions to the cube such that the center of the "t" piece occupies the center of the cube?

  19. YES!
    Now I have something to keep my hands busy with!
    I love origami, I have so many made, and it really helps me concentrate for when I am doing something else.
    Concentrating is so damn hard >…<

  20. Thank you James for that piece of knowledge, I'm sure I'll build something one day with these! It just looks so satisfying the way they fit together.

  21. James I really like how when I go to Numberphile I see the (mostly) professional you but going on this channel all of a sudden I see a more personal side of you. That's cool! I really like your stuff.

  22. when i tryed i got the cube with the first time without any help, no joke. but of course it's quite random and not about skill or whatever

  23. You probably won't see this since I'm so late, but I don't like the fakt that one piece has 3 cubes. In 2d tetris, al pieces have 4 squares, and you need an odd number of cubes to make a 3x3x3 cube, but I still feel like it's cheating. It should be a 4x4x4 cube with 16 pieces. Also, In tetris, there are all posible square placements, so I feel like that should be the case here as well, but I'm not shure how many ways to do that are there and if the sum is a cube of a number. Huge fan

  24. I've done poorly I @ math. I believe I do have the ability. I graduated college a long time ago. I have a learning disabilities. IQ tests have indicated that I have the aptitude. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions. I believe that I can understand math. I believe this largely for watching you on Utube. Thank you for your excellent work I will soldier on!

  25. I really miss your videos. Especially the math challenges and encryption/enigma stuff. It was way cooler then Numberphile (No offense Brady, your great).

  26. I used to do this with business cards. A lot easier to make that way. 6 cards makes a box plus any for connecting to other boxes.

  27. I liked my soma a lot when I was a kid. I was given the blue and later got the red one as well so I could try the double-set figures in the booklet, like the factory. Made from plastic, but very precise. Classic toy which no longer appears in stores.

  28. Four solutions and some insights into finding, recording and categorizing SOMA Cube solution:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWs7A9yNJ3w&t=25s

  29. It's it really oct-is? { (4^(1/2))^3 = 8 } Tetris is 2D and a soma cube is 3D, so you have to change the power of the squares.

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