This blog is about Simon, a young gifted mathematician and programmer, who had to move from Amsterdam to Antwerp to be able to study at the level that fits his talent, i.e. homeschool. Visit https://simontiger.com
Guess who was in town in mid-October? The amazing Vladimir Krasnoukhov, a one-of-kind puzzles inventor from Russia! (I know, I should’ve written about this earlier, but I’ve been lagging behind with my blog posts because of a really wicked bronchitis). He stopped by for a coffee and literally showered Simon with new mind boggling gifts!
Simon was especially impressed by the two physics demos that look like stuffed surfboards (Vladimir calls them “oysters”) and can only rotate in one direction due to the moment of inertia. Vladimir told us there have even been research papers written about these demos! Simon has been showing the trick to just about everyone who has visited our home ever since.
We have also received an especially difficult puzzle that took famous Russian physicist Sergei Kapitsa two hours to solve (Vladimir told me the answer, he didn’t want me to waste two months of my life) and several more colourful and elegant models. Simon is not even particularly keen on puzzles (when it comes to recreational maths, I think he is more into riddles and proves), it is Vladimir’s friendly disposition, his selfless devotion to mathematical beauty and his deep respect for a child’s intrinsic interests, his deep respect for children’s play in general, that have made our hearts melt. You can find out more about Vladimir Krasnoukhov’s puzzles on planetagolovolomok.ru
When we arrived at the MathsJam last Tuesday, we heard a couple of people speak Russian. One of them turned out to be a well known Russian puzzle inventor Vladimir Krasnoukhov, who presented us with one colorful puzzle after another, seemingly producing them out of thin air. What a feast! Simon got extremely excited about several puzzles, especially one elegant three-piece figure (that turned out to have no possible solution, and that’s what Simon found particularly appealing) and a cube that required graph theory to solve it (Simon has tried solving the latter in Wolfram Mathematica after we got home, but hasn’t succeeded so far).
Vladimir told us he had been making puzzles for over 30 years and had more than 4 thousand puzzles at home. Humble and electricized with childlike enthusiasm, he explained every puzzle he gave to Simon, but without imposing questions or overbearing instructions. He didn’t even want a thank-you for all his generosity!
Vladimir also gave us two issues of the Russian kids science magazine Kvantik, with his articles published in them. One of the articles was an April fools joke about trying to construct a Penrose impossible triangle and asked to spot the step where the mistake was hidden:
Simon was very enthusiastic about trying to actually physically follow the steps, even though he realized it would get impossible at some point: