To Infinity... and Beyond!

The Eternity II puzzle is an edge-matching puzzle invented by Christopher Monckton, and is marketed and copyrighted by TOMY UK Ltd. The prize for the first person who submits a correct solution is $2,000,000.

This puzzle involves placing 256 square pieces into a 16x16 grid, constrained by the requirement to match adjacent edges (see picture). Each puzzle piece has its edges on one side marked with different shape/color combinations, each of which must match precisely with its neighboring side on each adjacent piece when the puzzle is complete. Each piece can be used in 4 orientations, there are 22 shapes/colors (not including the gray edges), and there is a starter piece which must be placed near the center of the board.

The number of possible configurations for the Eternity II puzzle is 1 × 4! × 56! × 195! × 4^195 = ~10^557, much larger than the estimated number of atoms in the observable universe, so even a super-computer running for many years will not find the solution to this problem. OK, so as you probably understand, there is no way to solve this puzzle completely and get those 2 million US dollars, but about a week ago I heard they offer a smaller prize to people who get close. I don’t believe anyone can even get close to the complete solution, but being a smart a*s, I just had to see how close a semi-sophisticated brute-force algorithm can get me, so I went and bought this puzzle. Naturally, I wrote a simple program (see my logo) and ran it on my PC last night. After a few hours of running, and a few millions of checked arrangements, the best score produced by my program was 236 out of the 256 tiles, that's ~92.2%. It may seem like much, but it isn’t.

Stay tuned… :p

p.s. Anybody else disturbed by the fact that Superman reversed time by rotating the Earth clockwise?


Ghosty said...

What Superman did would have been an excellent way to travel into the future, not the past ... but it was perfect for the comprehension level of space-time relationships inherant in the average movie-goer (i.e., zilch). Poor Supes always gets the bad rap.

SuperCarl said...

Superman's powers bug me quite a bit. Supposedly he only has them on earth, as do any other Kryptonites, yet he manages to fly in space, bizarre!

Pentad said...

Keep us updated! Pretty cool.

GraceMags said...

how could they have created something that's so impossible to solve? sheesh

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NanoGeek said...

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Caoimhin said...

Good luck with the puzzle Uri!
Stephen Hawkin must have read that Superman comic book. He says that in an expanding universe time is as we know it; but, when the universe collapses time will run backwards. Maybe you'll get a second chance at that Infinity Puzzle! :)

Uri Kalish said...

You are correct. By accelerating you can jump into the future.

True, that is weird.

Will do.

While solving this puzzle might be extremely hard, making it is extremely easy.

Welcome my new BC friend! Nice blog you have there.

I think you're talking about the Entropy Arrow of Time. I don't remember who claimed that time will go backwards if the universe will come to a stop and start to collapse, but I remember he backed down from his statement. BTW, it seems like the universe will continue expanding forever.

~心碎~ said...

btw, can someone accelerating till travel into future?

then if ppl in spaceship, will they have any changes on time?

Uri Kalish said...

Forward time traveling is relatively simple. It can be achieved by accelerating to extremely high speed or by getting close to an extremely big mass. As predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity - time is subjective. For example, you can go on a one minute high speed trip only to return to Earth to discover you have just missed a whole decade back at home. A real-life example is the cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev that spent a total of 748 days on the Russian space station Mir and missed a whole 0.02 seconds on Earth.

Stuck in my head said...

If only we were as strong as the man in the tights to be able to time travel quickly like that.

Great blog!