Here is some of what
was seen and experienced:
see
Da
Vinci Days 2003 for more detailed information
on specific exhibits and puzzles

Year
after year, the simple Monty Hall puzzle reveals how easy it is to miss
even simple logic  how easy it is to be fooled into believing something
that just isn't so.
Jeanine
& Trish manning Monty Hall in 05
The filberts
in the tubes tell a tale about human observing  that falls short.
Science happened because we human beings discovered new ways to interpret what our perceptions reveal. Science concepts are almost never obvious at first encounter. We have to think, and think hard  after making observations that reveal more to us than casual glances reveal. We don't even need to know what the question was when we see the results of hundreds of people answering "Stay or Switch"? Those filberts in the tubes tell us that "Switch" wins twice as often as it loses, and that "Stay" loses twice as often as it wins. That observation is statistical. Statistics is one of the most powerful tools of science. It's also, like most of science, not what it seems to be when we give it only casual thinking, what it seems at our first impressions. What's more, the very simple Monty Hall question is subtle enough that even professional mathematicians have frequently gotten it wrong. Monty
Hall...raw Da Vinci Days, 2002

The Subtle Puzzles
Discovering some surprising solution to a puzzle can be among of the most delightful of human experiences. It's the reason most mathematicians and scientists do what they do. But puzzles, especially the subtle puzzles, are probably underused as a teaching tool: puzzle solving has been found to be virtually the only route to understanding the concepts of science and math. Those who would learn science must follow paths similar to the paths of the pathfinders of science. Rote memorization is the path to writing down pi to several significant figures, or entering a phone number on a cell phone, but rote memorization has led almost all science and math students to a head full of useless knowledge. Subtle puzzles need to
be a part of the life of those who would become users
of scientific knowledge.

See
understanding
as the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington sees it.
See
pi
as one artist misunderstood the intent of one book publisher.
See
users
of scientific knowledge as seen by the Knowledge for Use project.


.  Future presentations of the subtle puzzles will adopt lessons learned at this, and previous years', Da Vinci Days  
The puzzle illustrates how even the most elementary math can carry powerful insights  and that mathematical insights sometimes require efforts of unfamiliar kinds. 
Eighteen pieces can be assembled
into a cube in many different ways. But these pieces were chosen
in a peculiar way. If that peculiarity isn't discovered, assembling
the cube can be remarkably difficult.
Future presentations of this "Cantankerous Cube" puzzle will have three presentations: 1) a "raw" puzzle that merely asks that the pieces be assembled into a 5 X 5 X 5 cube; 2) instructions that suggest some ways to arrange the small "stick," 1 X 1 X 3 pieces; 3) instructions that lead the puzzle solver through the arithmetical principle that underlies the puzzle. 

It's
so simpleespecially when it has only the six piecesthat its solution
can be found without discovering its interesting arithmetic. But
it's surprisingly difficult for such a simple task. Discovering why
is a nice fisrt step toward seeing why even the simplest science gives
us so much difficulty.

Nine pieces can be assembled
into a cube. But the pieces were chosen in a peculiar way  and
it's the same peculiarity the above puzzle has. (Three of the pieces,
small cubes, have been left outempty spaces take their place in the assembled
cube.)
Future presentations of this puzzle will give hints that lead the puzzle solver to the principle shared by this and the above puzzle. 

This "Deceptive Cube" puzzle
is a variant of the Soma Cube puzzle which was popular a few decades ago.
Soma has seven pieces that make a cube, and it has over a hundred different
solutions. This variant has six pieces to make a cube, but comes
as a set of two puzzles, which...
Future presentations of this puzzle will present a variant pointing out that the pieces can be arranged into attractive threedimensional patterns. Perhaps amateur architects can vie for the most popular structure as voted on by the visitors. 

An elegant
solution. It is also a "buzzsaw certain" answer to the puzzle 
it brooks no argument. Anyone who disagrees with it either doesn't
understand the problem and its answer or is redefining either the problem
or reality.


A
carpenter, working with a buzz saw, wishes to cut a wooden cube, three
inches on a side, into 27 oneinch cubes. He can do this job easily
by making six cuts through the cube, keeping the pieces together in the
cube shape. Can he reduce the number of necessary cuts by rearranging
the pieces after each cut? Either show how or prove that it's impossible.
Another elegant solution...and it's the source of the term "buzzsaw certainty." Martin Gardner gave us 25 years of subtle puzzles in his "Mathematical Games" feature of Scientific American. This one comes from one the earliest sets of those puzzles. Few, if any, better demonstrations of the nature of scientific elegance can be found*. 

This
small model of the crystal structure of silicon (DiamondCubic structure)
introduces the important concept of spatial symmetry.



This
is the sleeper lying among these puzzles. The principle, when seen,
has a lot of potential for reshaping our view of the world because so much
of our view lines things up for comparison. Lines are almost always
inappropriate: Multidimensional spaces present themselves to us and we
see lines  somewhat like a totally colorblind sees color.



The polarizing filters demonstrate many other interesting properties of polarized light, including glare reduction, seeing past reflection on water, the "Brewster angle," (which happens to be the angle of the cone of your vision of what's outside the pool when you lay on your back on the bottom of a swimming pool), construction of variable density filters, darkening the sky seen by the color camera, etc. 
Hold the filter next to your eye and rotate it while looking at a bit of blue sky. The blue will darken and lighten as you rotate. Rotate to the position that makes the sky the darkest possible. The line on the disc now points to the sun. You have determined the direction of the polarization of the blue light (made blue and polarized by "Rayleigh" scattering). You will also notice that the greatest darkening occurs when the angle to the sun is 90^{o}. As the angle to the sun moves toward 0^{o} or 180^{o} the darkening lessensno darkening at 0^{o} & 180^{o}. A bee's vision detects the amount and direction of polarizationwe have no way of knowing the bee's experience of that detectionand knows where the sun is even if only a small patch of blue sky is visible through the clouds. 

*But do consider this one, which does have a definite numerical answer: A wooden sphere has a cylindrical hole drilled all the way through from surface to surface with the axis of the hole passing through the center of the sphere. The hole is two inches long. What is the volume of the remaining wood? 
OMSI
sends an emmisary
Celebrating Physics
in the 21st Century


Drum filled with steam. Outside cooled with water. Steam condenses.  Air pressure is 14.7 lb/sq inch. Area of drum = 3400 square inches. Force = 50000 lbs 
BANG!! 
Water, water everywhere. 
dishes spinning on top of wobbly sticks 

This year, two of the sculptures were walkers  
But the sand dune was too much to walk!


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