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In a set of puzzles I found online recently, I acquired this unnamed puzzle:

spherical puzzle rotated spherical puzzle

I'm not sure what it is, or how to solve it. It definitely comes apart, as it is split into six pieces, but I see no way to begin disassembly or, for that matter, start assembling it again.

Pushing on pieces doesn't seem to do anything. I can slide my finger under some pieces by squeezing them, but trying to pull pieces out gives resistance that I don't think I'm supposed to push past.

There is a piece of paper inside the puzzle, but I can only read it through the tiny hole in the yellow piece - I can't actually see its contents. I've made out the word "puzzle" and some out-of-context steps to a solution, but this doesn't really help me, since I don't know how to get to it. I don't even know what this thing is called.

How do I disassemble this? And once it's disassembled, how do I reassemble it?

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  • $\begingroup$ The paper on the inside might be the solution for the puzzle. So once you've disassembled it you might have the answer right there for how to reassemble it. $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Oct 2 '14 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Rob I don't know how to disassemble it, though. $\endgroup$ – Aza Oct 2 '14 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ The reassembly is the hard part. I had a puzzle that looked similar. The piece 180 degrees away from the marking should slide out by pulling away from the center. It's being held by the tension from the two overlapping pieces. Then the puzzle just falls apart. $\endgroup$ – LeppyR64 Oct 2 '14 at 3:19
  • $\begingroup$ Any chance that you could post a link of where I could get one? I want a neat thing to have on my desk, and this'd fit the bill as neat as well as cool metaphor. $\endgroup$ – Yann Nov 11 '14 at 15:48
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Well, funny story.

My friend grew irritated with the dern plastic thing, so he threw it at a wall. And guess what? It fell apart.

Inside, the disassembly instructions read:

HOW TO DISASSEMBLE:

To disassemble, throw the ball at the ground.

I'm not kidding.

enter image description here

There are two things that will cause this puzzle to break apart: the first is centripetal force, and the second is significant shock. If every single piece is pulled apart at the same time, then they will all slide away. But, if you pull on just one piece (particularly with tangential force), then they lock up. Also, if you throw it on the ground, the pieces really aren't that well-connected, so they'll crumble away.


The re-assembly is actually pretty intuitive. There are two pieces that are shaped to allow for reassembly, that have an indent in them:

enter image description here

Set these aside. The rest are shaped like this:

enter image description here

Three of these are needed initially, then the two you set aside are needed, then the last piece to go in is one of the 'regular' pieces.

For the rest of this answer, I will be referencing the following example:

enter image description here

Place one piece on the bottom (orange), and hold two pieces vertically adjacent to it (white and green), resting against the first at 90 degree angles. You will have to hold them there with one hand.

Then, pick up each of the pieces set aside (purple and yellow) and place them against the upright pieces horizontally, indented side up. The reason you want to do this is so that the last piece can slide in easily - it's pretty clear that there's more room for the last piece to slide in from the image.

Once these pieces are in, you should be able to hold together easier with just a little bit of pressure on the sides. If you're delicate, you can even get it to sit like this without any interference!

Then, it's as simple as sliding the last piece in, over the indented pieces. It will take a little bit of pressure and bending, but it will snap into place. I find it helps if you pull up on the piece from the other side to get it over the lip. Then boom, puzzle solved.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you put a photo of disassembled parts? I am interested how they are connected (in a way that "I can slide my finger under some pieces by squeezing them, but trying to pull pieces out gives resistance"). $\endgroup$ – klm123 Oct 2 '14 at 7:14
  • $\begingroup$ @klm I'm uploading some descriptive photos now. Thanks for the suggestion! $\endgroup$ – Aza Oct 2 '14 at 7:24
  • $\begingroup$ What a nice puzzle. I guess If you squeeze it between hands it should be the same effect of throwing on the ground? I see the round sides of each detail works like a lock for neighbour detail and if you deform two opposite details this will make it flatter and will free neighbour detail. $\endgroup$ – klm123 Oct 2 '14 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ LOL at "How to Disassemble". I remember playing this puzzle in my youth. I think my version was easier to disassemble, you can pull the red piece (in your illustration) easily. $\endgroup$ – justhalf Oct 2 '14 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ That's a nice trick. It's an ironic puzzle, in that throwing it to the ground in frustration is exactly the thing you need to do to pull it apart. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Oct 2 '14 at 17:41
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Three pieces meet at one intersection in this puzzle, and on the opposite side there's another intersection which touches the other three pieces.

If you gently grasp the first three with three fingers from one hand, and the other three with three fingers from the other hand, you should find that the two halves, each composed of three pieces, slide apart. Friction and tight fitting pieces may prevent this at first, but as the puzzle is worked you'll be able to do this.

You can reassemble it the same way, but it's very difficult to get each half correctly assembled and then lined up to put them back together. Follow the instructions for reassembly. Disassembly can be done easily using this method.

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