The GAPE 2013 Award

Here's a photo of Solomon Golomb's "Polyominoes" award, assembled like a puzzle with its own stand and plaque. The 11 puzzle pieces consist of 6 pentominoes and 5 hexominoes, a total of 60 squares, and present solving challenges for 3 rectangles and a search for congruent shapes to form with the pentominoes versus hexominoes.

Photograph by Eric Bare

The design inspiration for this trophy was the Diamond Jubilee—60 years, hence 60 squares— of the introduction by Solomon Golomb of the concept of polyominoes as a recreational math puzzle. Therefore the award is a large diamond-shaped tray of clear acrylic, with the polyominoes selected that resemble the 11 letters in the word "POLYOMINOES".

The upper half of the clear panel has a cut-out of the words "YIPE, SOLOMON" and the 11 puzzle pieces can fit into those characters as well. Kate discovered this fun anagram over 25 years ago, and this was the perfect moment to use it.

The clear rectangle in the center of the panel is exactly the right size to hold a 5x12 solution using all 11 pieces.

It was only fitting that the venue for the presentation was the 11th Gathering for Gardner, with a theme of 11. The biennual event celebrates the life's work of Martin Gardner, whose writings on mathematical games inspired generations of mathematicians and puzzlers.

And it is a significant historical fact that Gardner helped popularize polyominoes by writing an article about Golomb's brainchild in the May 1957 issue of Scientific American magazine, which turned out to be the most influential edition in the quarter century of Gardner's authorship of the mathematical games column.

The pentominoes have by now made themselves at home in the culture, and Kadon's Quintillions are the finest embodiment of them in the world.

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