This Mind-Boggling Puzzle Has No Beginning or End

Most jigsaw puzzles present assemblers with a clear challenge: Arrange the pieces just right until you’ve recreated the picture on the box. If puzzles appeal to your logical side, you may have a hard time completing the Infinite Galaxy Puzzle. The pieces are specially designed to fit together in any direction with no boundaries to contain them.

The edgeless puzzle was made possible using “math, science, and lasers,” according to the creators. The geometric concept that inspired the idea is called a Klein bottle, a theoretical 3D shape that’s mathematically identical inside and out.

Because both sides of the puzzle feature a picture of the Milky Way’s galactic core, it has no fixed up or down. The image wraps around from one surface to the other making it impossible to see the whole thing at once. When putting the puzzle together, pieces on the outside can be flipped over and transferred to the opposite side of the image, giving assembly a never-ending effect.

One puzzle includes 133 pieces laser-cut from birch plywood and costs $120. If you prefer puzzles that leave zero room for creativity, this 1000-color monstrosity from German artist Clemens Habicht is just as maddening.

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Feeling Stressed? Playing Tetris Could Help Relieve Your Anxiety

iStock/Radachynskyi
iStock/Radachynskyi

When Nintendo released their handheld Game Boy system in the U.S. and Japan in 1989, the first game most users experimented with was Tetris. Bundled with the system, the clever puzzler—which prompts players to line up a descending array of tiles to create horizontal lines—was the video game equivalent of an addictive drug. Some players described seeing the shapes in their dreams. The game was in the hands of 35 million portable players; by 2010, it had sold 100 million smartphone downloads.

Now, there’s evidence that Tetris players may have a solution to anxiety in the palms of their hands. According to a paper published in the journal Emotion, Tetris has the capability to relieve stress and troubling thoughts by providing a form of distraction.

As part of a larger study about the benefits of distraction, researchers at the University of California, Riverside conducted an experiment on 309 college students who were told to expect some anxiety-provoking news: They were told someone would be offering an evaluation of their physical attractiveness. While they waited for their results, a third of the subjects played a slow-moving, beginner-level version of Tetris; another group played a high-speed variation; and a third played an adaptive version, which automatically adjusted the speed of the game based on the player’s abilities.

Tetris games that were too slow or too fast bored or frustrated players, respectively. But the game that provided a moderate challenge helped reduce the subjects’ perception of their stress levels. They reported a quarter-point higher level of positive emotions on a five-point scale and a half-point reduction of negative emotions. The students still worried about the results of the attractiveness evaluation, but they experienced fewer negative feelings about it.

The key, according to the study, is that the students were experiencing “flow,” a state of mind in which you’re so engrossed in an activity that you lose your sense of self-awareness. While Tetris may be one of the best ways to quickly fall into flow, anything that consumes your attention—playing music, drawing, cooking—is likely to work.

The next time you have to wait for potentially life-altering news, you may find that a Tetris session will help you cope.

[h/t NPR]

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