Science meets art in this puzzle that lets you put Earth together any way you want
News | 09.11.2018
NASA’s logos and images are public domain, so companies like Urban Outfitters, Vans, and even Coach have taken full advantage with space-themed apparel. Now, there’s a new product based on NASA images for true nerds: an uber-complex Earth puzzle.
Somerville, Massachusetts, design studio Nervous System created the puzzle using images from NASA, and they use a laser cutter to cut the puzzle’s 442 pieces. Sixteen of those are “whimsy pieces” shaped like animals and fit the continents to which they are indigenous. A kangaroo makes up most of Australia, for instance, while a rhino fits in Africa and a penguin in Antarctica.
If you’re a puzzle buff who loves order and has $120 to spare, this one might drive you crazy: There are no edges and there’s no set configuration. Nervous System uses a design it calls the “infinity puzzle,” which means that there is no fixed final shape, which can result in any number of finished configurations. To do this, they started with a traditional Mercator projection of the Earth, the most common type for translating the globe into a flat map. They then used a computer program to create an icosahedron, a three-dimensional shape with 20 sides. From there, they designed the puzzle’s interlocking, interchangeable pieces.
While you can shoot for putting together a “correct” image of the Earth, its designers encourage you to make your own maps. “Assemble it such that all the continents form an almost continuous land mass or put all the oceans together,” they suggest. “Put Antarctica in the center.” And if you want an even more difficult challenge, Nervous System also has a moon puzzle, which comes with astronaut, space shuttle, and lunar lander pieces.