Starting from a 7x7 array of all red cells, make all the tiles blue! Alien Tiles is a vivid and fiendishly difficult puzzle recently
created and developed by Dr. Cliff Pickover (and programmed by Cam Mckechnie). Some have called it
"Rubik's cube for the
new millennium." The rules are simple,
but the patterns soon become very complex. I look forward to
hearing from artists, puzzle fans, and mathematicians regarding any
interesting solutions, observations, and patterns.
no longer displays the game by default for most people. How sad! Perhaps some of you will repogram the puzzle using methods that will display on all browsers.
For example, another goal is to start from a 7x7 array of all red cells and produce this blue-diamond pattern:
Example: The following image depicts the initial grid (left) and then after a single click on row 3, column 2 (right):
Example: Clicking just one square at left would produce pattern at right.
Pickover's Alien Tiles has spawned countless technical papers, for example:
- - Free paper: Glenn Rhoads, "A Group Theoretic Solution to the Alien Tiles Puzzle."
- - Free paper: Ian Gent, "Symmetry Breaking in the Alien Tiles Puzzle"
- - Paper Intro: Peter Maier & Werner Nickel, "Attainable Patterns in Alien Tiles"
- - Free paper: Iain McDonald and Barbara Smith, Partial Symmetry Breaking
- -- Free paper: Martin J.Chlond, "An Alien IP"
- -- Free paper: Ian P. Gent, Warwick Harvey, and Tom Kelsey, "Groups and Constraints: Symmetry Breaking during Search"
- -- Web page: "Alien Tiles Problem"
- -- Web page: Alien tiles heuristic function - Stack Overflow
- - A long discussion at rec.puzzles
First Goal: Starting from all red, your goal is to make every cell in the puzzle turn all green, blue, or purple in as few moves as possible. Are you certain your solution requires the least number of moves?
Second Goal: Starting from all red, create a board that is all purple except for a single, central red tile.
Third Goal: Inside the 7x7 array, create a Xenoplastic Diamond -- a rotated 4x4 square of one color inlaid within tiles all of another color. Click here for an example. If you can ever create this magnificent specimen, you will have a long life filled with joy.
Fourth Goal: To achieve ultimate peace and transcendence, create the following Alien Tile "Sivaraman" patterns: Bazuluk Shenkursk Vologda Novomoskovsk Orel Shar'ya Vyshniy Charon
You can use a mouse to copy all your moves. As an example, you can try playing back a sequence of 587 moves for the 7x7 board. You can try this by using a mouse to copy this odd solution into the "Replay" field.
Click here for the Classic 4x4 board. (In some situations, this is actually more difficult than the 7x7 board.)
Click here for an amazing 14x14 board.
Click here for a grand Internet contest with valuable prizes as a reward.
Click here for other challenges, unanswered questions, and challenges from vistors to AlienTiles.com.
Click here for some program code to solve some aspects of the puzzle.
If Alien Tiles intrigues you,
check out these new books.
Shiver at the sexy minds who have laid naked the mathematical machinery whirring just beneath the skin of reality.
e-mail me if you get these books, as I would like to know what you think of it.
Send AlienTiles.com feedback, questions, and discoveries.
There are still many mysteries and questions surrounding the Alien Tiles. Visit our web sites for puzzles, artwork, books, mind expanders, and more information about us:
-- Dr. Cliff Pickover, contact information
-- Visit Cliff Pickover's web site (www.pickover.com)
Tell five friends about this web site. After you do, you have permission to click here for a different, wonderful alien image every hour. Thanks.
© 2002-2009, Cliff Pickover and Cam Mckechnie, www.alientiles.com. All rights reserved. Alien cartoon by Brian Mansfield.