Science on Display Puzzles

A visit to the Science Center at Puget Sound is essentially a treasure hunt for creative demonstrations and artistic representations of the principles of science, mathematics, and technology. Not only are those principles embodied in larger-than-life, featured displays, but they are also tucked away in corners of hallways and camouflaged in the floor tiles. Once renovated each story of Thompson Hall will house a unique puzzle conceived and designed by Puget Sound faculty members for visitors to find and unravel.

On the Floor
Running along the wall, built into the floor tile pattern, the geology department has designed a timeline measuring Earth’s significant geological events from the birth of the planet to the present, highlighting each age and era in between. On the second floor, running the length of all three Thompson Hall wings, the biology department has created a color-coded representation of a DNA sequence, assigning each amino acid its own color. Faculty members in the math department have converted the constant Pi into binary code, their tile representation bordering the third floor wings of Thompson Hall.

In the Corners
Visitors to the upper-level rooms and wings of Thompson Hall will be met with two additional Science on Display puzzles. The chemistry department has created symmetry character tables. These tables demonstrate how a particular shape (square, sphere, etc.) behaves as it is acted upon (rotated, enlarged, etc.) Also look for a Greco-Latin Square from the math department. This is a pattern (traditionally represented by the letters of the Latin and Greek alphabets) where only one element of each type is allowed in each row and column, and each pair of elements is only allowed once in each square. For example, here is a 3-by-3 Greco-Latin Square using capital and lower case letters as the two “alphabets”:

Aa        Bb        Cc

Bc        Ca        Ab

Cb        Ac        Ba