What are some 3D puzzles?
August 4, 2011 2:39 PM   Subscribe

What are some activities that exercise visual or structural type thinking? Something to do with science, technology, or 3-dimensions preferred. I'm looking for puzzles, hobbies, or other activities that might be performed through an actual job that I'm just not aware of. As examples, auto-mechanics classes and memorizing anatomy books immediately comes to mind.
posted by Giggilituffin to Education (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Play Portal.
posted by empath at 3:08 PM on August 4, 2011

Sculpture! To start, you can try to replicate an object using additive (sculpting in clay or other material) or subtractive (carving wood, plaster, etc) processes. You can draw an object and then try to create it in three dimensions.
posted by catrae at 3:43 PM on August 4, 2011

Burr puzzles.
posted by alby at 3:59 PM on August 4, 2011

Organic chemistry requires a lot of 3D thinking, particularly since carbon forms chiral bonds. You didn't say it HAD to be fun ...
posted by Quietgal at 4:17 PM on August 4, 2011

Architecture. Specifically, get your hands on some 3D modelling tools (or just Google Sketchup - I know at least one architect that uses it). It'll give you an opportunity to get used to 3D space, and you can get as structured as you want.

You can use it as a jumping off point to learn about electrical, plumbing, etc. systems too. Measure out your home, build it to scale in 3D, and then start adding the systems.

I know several artistically un-inclined nerds who use Sketchup to make spaceship designs, if home architecture isn't that interesting to you.

(You might get a kick out of accurately modelling the anatomy you're memorizing, too.)
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 8:04 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been having a hoot with Portal since the second has come out.

Thanks for the responses so far! This of already lots to go on.

Oh, un-fun or unconventional exercises are more than welcome!
posted by Giggilituffin at 8:21 PM on August 4, 2011

Cabinetmaking, or homebuilt 3D printers.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:23 PM on August 4, 2011

Hey, Quietgal, organic chemistry is the best fun going!

Structural chemistry is awesome. Here's a way for nonscientists with a knack for spatial aptitude can have fun, and even contribute to solving actual, tricky scientific problems: FoldIt: http://fold.it/portal/info/science

This game arose from work of David Baker's lab, at the University of Washington. He gave a talk at my workplace recently and talked at some length about examples of FoldIt players and teams solving protein structure and folding challenges that computational methods and even experienced protein scientists couldn't crack. This has even made it in to peer-reviewed scientific publication, believe it. And yeah, spatial thinking is a big part of what it's all about.
posted by Sublimity at 11:36 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I used to play some online games that simulated building a bridge, then driving a train over it to see how sturdy the resultant structure was. I don't have a specific one to recommend, but there are a lot of versions out there.
posted by CathyG at 7:58 AM on August 6, 2011

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