The Rubix Cube has long held the number one spot when it comes to puzzles, and there is a whole community out there surrounding it. Many puzzles have attempted to replicate this success, but the Bedlam Cube is the first to have come close.
The Bedlam Cube
The Bedlam Cube then is just such a puzzle. Developed by one Bruce Bedlam (hence the name… presumably), this is a puzzle that surprise surprise takes the shape of a cube. However this cube has been dissected into a series of three dimensional Tetris-like shapes which all link together to form the cube. The pieces are color coded also to help identify particular photos and to make instructions easier to follow. In total there are thirteen pieces of the cube, and these can be fitted together in a variety of ways in order to create the 4 * 4 * 4 square cube (again like Tetris pieces the shapes making up the Bedlam Cube are formed of smaller cubes and rectangles that could fit onto a grid). A smaller version of the Bedlam Cube is the 3 * 3 * 3 Soma Cube, so if you were looking for a slightly easier challenge then this might be more for you.
Using the Bedlam Cube
Obviously the Bedlam Cube is easy to start playing with and once you’ve scattered the pieces it’s then time to find ways to build it up again – usually starting from the bottom with a foundation and then building your way up.
However what makes the Bedlam Cube unique from other challenges is the fact that it can be solved in numerous ways – in fact there are 19,186 different solutions to the puzzle. This then means that your first challenge is simply to construct the cube, but unlike many other puzzles you then have a lot more you can do with it – for instance you can challenge yourself to solve the puzzle in one of the many other ways. To find out what these other potential solutions are you only need to look online, and here you will find many instructions on how to complete the cube in different ways and you can challenge yourself to use that configuration in your attempt to build it. There’s even software online that is devised to help you generate random solutions to the puzzle – so if you look then there’s plenty of documentation out there to get you started.
Benefits of Using the Bedlam Cube
Keeping your brain busy and constantly testing it with different puzzles and activities has many different health benefits and mostly these involve improving cognitive function, recall and attention and preventing age related cognitive decline and other problems. We are often told to ‘use it or lose it’ and when it comes to our smarts this is definitely relevant.
This is due to something called ‘brain plasticity’ – a relatively new phenomenon which has been discovered by psychologists in which the brain actually changes shape and adapts to the way we use it. Just as you can train your muscles and they will physically become bigger, so too can you train your specific brain areas and make them larger. Case in point – cellists – who when they train their playing ability actually also train their brain and cause certain areas of the brain such as the part of the motor cortex pertaining to the sensation and control of the finger tips – to grow larger in response to being used regularly. Meanwhile other studies have shown that things like recall, spatial awareness and concentration can be improved with practice, and that this can help us to protect against ‘brain rot’. When we get older we tend to lose ‘fluid intelligence’ which means we are less able to store numbers and to manipulate shapes and concepts in our mind’s eye. However with training this can be prevented to a degree or at least slowed down – and often it is actually the lack of use that causes this cognitive decline in the first place, not age itself.
Enter the little puzzles that we can hold and play with and that will keep us busy. These task us to think laterally, to manipulate shapes in our mind and to use a methodical approach to problems. As well as developing areas of our brain, they also teach us how to correctly go about solving problems. Furthermore they are a great way to pass time, a perfect thing to help distract us from work for ten minutes without sucking us in, and a great achievement once we accomplish them. And as they say, the devil makes work for idle thumbs…
The Bedlam Cube is popular among many individuals and is best suited to the desk of a busy executive making it easy to pick up and play with for a few minutes a day. Likewise it can be kept at home on a dressing table or in a drawer as something to pick up and play with when you are relaxing. It is best used regularly and in small goes to keep the brain nimble and to improve your mental dexterity.