Sunday, November 8, 2009

Longuet-Higgins' Rhombo blocks

When reading the book, "King of Infinite Space", a bibliography about the Canadian mathematician Donald Coxeter, a magnetic toys called Rhombo blocks mentioned in pages 251-252 caught my eye. According to the description in the book, it is some kind of toys very similar to the one, "ball of whacks", I bought a few months ago.

M. Longuet-Higgins was the inventor of Rhombo blocks. I checked Rhombo blocks after I got accessed to the internet (see the picture below) this morning. Indeed, the magnetic design of this toy is probably similar to the "ball of whacks". I guess that the difference is the shape between the two mainly. I am curious about who invented this kind of design first.

Again the Rhombo block is quite expensive, though.

One can also build a Kepler ball (Rhombic triacontahedron) using Rhombo blocks. Based on the following picture, it seems to me that only 10 blocks are needed.


haitianpeas said...

Rhombo blocks are just like the original Rhomblocks produced in the early 1980's by Marvin Solit and Rhombics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This was long before Roger von Oech's Ball of Whacks came out. Stuart Quimby reproduced Marvin's RhomBlocks in the 1990's and later when he was running Design Science Toys. Sadly, Design Science Toys went out of business in 2005.
Marvin passed away in December of 2006 at age 75. He was a sensitive, compassionate man who took a deep interest in geometric relationships and in human relationships. He is missed by many.

Bih-Yaw Jin said...

Thanks for this information.